Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Is everything fine, Pompee?"

I have read about the Bedouins protest here in Kuwait. For the last few days they have been protesting. Hope it doesn't take an ugly and massive turn like Egypt, Bahrain and now the bloodshed in Libiya…..With so much of tension, agitation and unrest in the entire region, back home, people got worried. A week back, Suman my brother called “Is everything fine,Pompee? There is so much of unrest in the region? Is there any type of protest in Kuwait?” I had to assure him that all’s fine here and there is no protest here in Kuwait. The Amir of Kuwait is a very kind hearted leader who had done lot of things for his country and people. During my four years stay in Kuwait, I have started feeling that Kuwait is a truly welfare state. I do know about the Bedouins and their problems, but some how when I assured my brother and family in India, that evening I just forgot about the issue. Kuwait is preparing to celebrate its 50th Year of Independence , 20th year of Liberation from the Iraqi forces and 5th Year of Rule of the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah…there is lot of preparation going on  but at the same time security measures are also taken keeping in mind the unrest in the country.

My brother called again yesterday and asked about the Bedouin protest? I assured him that alls fine and normal in Kuwait and that there is massive preparation going on for its National and Liberation Day. NOW who are these Bedouins?

Bedouins are the nomadic inhabitants of the desert generally referring to the nomads of Arabia (Saudi Arabia), Negev (Israel) and Sinai (Egypt). They are recognized by their nomadic lifestyle, specific dialect, social structure, culture and their weaving. The nomadic Bedouins live in tents that are woven by their women folk. 

The Bedouins in Kuwait is believed to be roughly 100,000 claim they have the right to Kuwaiti citizenship, but the government says that ancestors of many of them came from neighboring countries and they are not entitled to nationality. Kuwait launched a crackdown on the Bedouins in 2000, depriving them of basic rights including the right to health, education and jobs, in a bid to force them to reveal what the authorities say are their true identities. Many Bedouins have no right to a driver's license, can't own a house, car, cannot get birth certificates for their babies or death certificates for the dead. They are also banned from getting their marriage contracts attested.

The Bedouins have been protesting in various parts of the country carrying Kuwaiti flags and pictures of the ruler and also demanded their right to work. Most bedouins claim to be Kuwaitis whose forefathers, who lived as Bedouins in the desert, failed to apply for citizenship when the state first introduced its nationality law in 1959.

In oil rich Kuwait, where its citizens get lot of benefits and money from the government, these Bedouins live in poor economic conditions. Kuwaiti MP’s have called on the government to quickly resolve the problem. Hope and pray that the protest doesn’t take ugly turn.

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