Kuwait has continued to remind the world that, despite its advances in the modern world, it remains a religiously orthodox government imposing medieval values on its population. That fact was on display this week as the government banned such works as “The Little Mermaid” and Michelangelo’s David as unIslamic or indecent. Sounds Orwellian? Perhaps but Kuwaiti’s would not know it . . . Orwell’s masterpiece “1984” was also banned.
Kuwait finds mermaids and Michelangelo statues unacceptably because they are not covered up. As such, the Disney image could corrupt the nation by exposing people to a half-fish, half-girl creature without a barnacle burka.
One positive element is that Kuwaitis, who have always viewed their country as more free than other Islamic governments, have publicly posted the ban. The problem is that a more conservative Islamic majority had taken hold of the nation and, as we have seen in other Islamic countries, these religious groups have immediately sought bans and crackdowns. It has now banned 4,390 books since 2014. This year alone has seen hundreds of works added to the list by the 12-member censor committee.
The works include Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez. The latter was banned because of a single scene in which a wife sees her husband naked.
It is heartening to see intellectual Kuwaiti’s bravely fighting for the future of their nation as a modern and educated people. It is disheartening to see how Islamic parties and conservatives immediately seek to curtail the freedoms and choices of citizens when they come into power. There is no reason — as these Muslim protesters attest — for Islam to be based on the repression of citizens and the denial of free expression. Ultimately, all religions must survive by convincing not coercing its population. That starts with allowing people to watch “The Little Mermaid.”
As after some characters and messages might resonate with modern Kuwaitis who are rapidly losing their voices to religious orthodoxy: