Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Op-ed is a stealth criticism of nation's leadership

With the detention of Emirati citizens who have expressed a desire for the nation's rulers to permit greater democratic freedoms, it has become more evident that even if you express your views in a careful, respectful way, criticism of the government can come at a personal cost.

What to do if you want to criticize the government's behavior? Criticize the behavior, but criticize its manifestation in others leaving out any mention of that sort of behavior by the government.

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi's op-ed's appear frequently in the Gulf News. In my reading of his recent op-ed he is main objective is an indictment of the UAE government's crackdown on advocates of greater freedoms, but he does it implicitly by making a point about tolerance and character assassination in the social media in the Gulf. A Facebook group I was added to recently reflected this trend; it included pict
ures of individuals, some of whom I recognised, others unknown to me, all with the word ‘traitors' under it in Arabic. The administrator of the page goes as far as to ask members to attack those ‘traitors' on their personal Facebook pages ‘under every comment.'

On Twitter, a common response I receive after posting a news item about Gulf individuals who were called in for questioning or have been dismissed from work for their political activity is the phrase ‘the traitors deserve it.' Comments such as ‘this person's family isn't even pure nationals' are also common.

The Gulf has suffered from a sort of McCarthyism before; takfir or the labelling of the other as infidels and heretics was an easy way of discrediting others.

...in the Gulf there is no official channel for debate that is tolerant even when the three ‘untouchables' of God, Country and Leader are off the topic. This also shows that many Gulf citizens are unable to debate topics that are sensitive and polarising without resorting to personalising the matter....

The renowned Islamic jurist Imam Al Shafei said more than a thousand years ago: "My opinion is right but it could possibly be wrong. Your opinion is wrong but it could possibly be right." No one has exclusivity over what's right and what isn't, and certainly no one has a monopoly on wisdom.
It's all here.



Anonymous unJane said...

And beautifully presented, too.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous site said...

Thanks for this post, pretty effective piece of writing.

3:02 PM  

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