Kuwait: Blue Revolution

Reuters reports that "Around 500 Kuwaiti activists, mostly women, demonstrated outside parliament [Monday] to demand female suffrage amidst tensions in the Gulf Arab state over a government drive to grant women political rights."

The drive for Kuwaiti women's rights dates back to the 1990s; an effort to give Kuwaiti women the vote was defeated in 1999 by a conservative parliamentary majority. However, what's interesting here is the demonstration. When a similar suffrage measure was before the parliament six years ago, there were no such demonstrations. Rather, as the NYT reported in a 1999 account, "Until now, the most radical protest by Kuwaiti women was in 1996, when about 500 stopped working for an hour." In the wake of the defeat, some women activists said they were "considering different tactics."

Were Kuwaiti women and their liberal male supporters influenced by recent protests in Egypt and especially Lebanon? Lebanese journalist Hisham Melham observed last week that the coverage of the Beirut protests by such Arab satellite services as al-Arabiya were having a having a "tremendous effect on the Arab people." Melham believed that "There is a sense of growing empowerment" in the region. We cannot say how much influence events in Lebanon have had on the Kuwaitis, but at a minimum, you can chalk up another color-coded public demonstration (the Kuwaitis have chosen blue) demanding change in the Arab world.

The demonstration attracted both secular and religious women, many of whom carried English-language signs urging change "Now." Liberal Kuwaiti blogger Zaydoun (who had hoped for a bigger turnout) has posted numerous photos at his site, Kuwait Unplugged.

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  • ||

    Coincidence! Meaningless! Inevitable!

  • ||

    "Reuters reports that "Around 500 Kuwaiti activists, mostly women, demonstrated outside parliament [Monday] to demand female suffrage amidst tensions in the Gulf Arab state over a government drive to grant women political rights."

    ...In related news, an angry old man in Jordan sent soup back in a deli. According to sources, he watched television the night before.

    "He said the soup was cold.", his wife was quoted as saying.

    I certainly wish the best for the women's movement in Kuwait, but I'm not convinced that this is related to the invasion of...blah blah blah. Even if it is related, as important as the women's movement is in Kuwait, and, indeed, throughout the rest of the world, I don't think that it's sufficient justification for bombing, invading and...blah blah blah. I mean, we lost 1,500 Americans and the lives of an awful lot of Iraqi...blah blah blah.

    I will say this--the media coverage of Iraq is, at least, a connection to the War. Still, I'm skeptical.

    ...blah blah blah.

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    a...blah blah blah

    Amen to that.

    In case anyone's interested, Gary Becker and Richard Posner have an interesting discussion going on regarding the relationship between the rise of economic freedom and political freedom in developing nations. Becker's remarks have a lot in common with some of my own thoughts on the matter, but I think Posner's rebuttal is worth reading as well.

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    Well, Ken...what can I say?

    When DOES it become worth it?

    Did you take some kind of Ayn-Randian Freedom Pledge. not to intrude in the slightest, on what you take to be the rights of ONE man, it it would save the universe?

    Or, if your position becomes at all Consequentialist...then, when DOES it become worth it?

  • ||

    "However, what's interesting here is the demonstration. When a similar suffrage measure was before the parliament six years ago, there were no such demonstrations."

    Really? Not according to this article:

    "However, since the [1999] decision of the parliament, depriving women of their political rights, the Kuwaiti women increased demonstrations before the premises of the voters registration department in order to debate their case before the court and held another demonstration before the Ministry of Justice."

    If you weren't paying attention then, it doesn't mean nothing was happenning.


    Also, a group of Saudi women ( a much more strict country than Kuwait) demonstrated in 1990 to protest the ban on women driving. Was that influenced by the war on Iraq too?

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    IMHO, the first thing Kuwait needs to do to improve human rights is to improve the condition of the expat workers, who account for the majority of the population, but have no rights to speak of.

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    Lets see if I understand this correctly. In Iraq, under American military occupation, womens rights seem to be going backwards under conservative Shia clerics. Meanwhile, women march all over the world for International Women's day (specially notable case: in Pakistan, a gang-raped woman whose assasilants were let free), including in Kuwait.

    Yet somehow, the demonstrations in Kuwait (and there have been calls for suffrage in Kuwait for over a decade) are because of Bush, but he's not in an way responsible for the backsliding in Iraq.

  • Jesse Walker||

    a: Maybe I'm misreading that article, but it sounds like those demonstrations began after Parliament rejected the law, not while it was considering it.

    I take your larger point, though: The current protests didn't spring out of nowhere.

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