The Dumb Fish in the Desert
After completing my graduate education in New York City, armed with a doctorate in clinical psychology and an MBA, I was toying with the idea of not moving back to Kuwait. I didn’t share that with anyone but didn’t have to. My mother’s spider sense tingled. A family member called to express her concerns and told me that I could go from being a small fish in a big pond to being a big fish in a small pond. My response? What happens if I become the dumb fish in the desert? Then what?
I moved back in June 2003 and launched THE 99 which I took from being an idea in a London Cab to international television and along the way raised millions of dollars, created hundreds of jobs and launched the first ever IP from the Muslim World to go global thereby putting Kuwait on the cultural and entrepreneurial map. And in recognition of that contribution, I have recently been selected as a member of the investment and financing committee of Kuwait’s new 7 Billion Dollar National Fund for small and medium sized businesses. Also in recognition of that, I am being sued for heresy and insult to religion by a private citizen in the Kuwaiti courts.
Today, April 23rd, a verdict will be shared as to whether I have indeed insulted religion through THE 99 or not. The case has been brought upon me by a gentleman whose twitter posts and retweets speak volumes to who he really is. Look him up and read the content. I don’t have to say anything more. In a fascinating case of reaction formation he has projected onto me that I am insulting religion. It’s quite trippy. Lewis Carroll would have loved to create such a character.
When he first lodged his complaint in February 2014, I was not called in for questioning. Four months later he found a relative at a police station in a remote area of Kuwait to accept to call me in for questioning. The evidence? A tweet that someone else tweeted from an unverified anonymous account accusing me of insulting religion. That is the evidence. That is the case. He then fortified it by a Fatwa asking a question based on lies and allegations and received an answer fitting to the question he asked. And this is the basis for most of the cases this lawyer drums up. Imagine if all lawyers did the same thing? They would collectively sink Kuwait and its future.
There has been concern from certain camps asking me to leave Kuwait when the verdict is read and not be there. And I find myself thinking…really? Now? After putting up this fight for a decade? The time to be out of Kuwait was in 2003. I refuse to be diluted out of my country’s future. My leaving now would be more than brain drain. It would be hope drain. I do not see this as a case against me personally, this is a case about Kuwait’s future. It is a case about the future of entrepreneurship, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of expression. And at its very heart is standing up to bullies who would beg borrow and steal to maintain the status quo. I believe in Kuwait and in its future and promise. And I will not be diluted out of shaping its future. I believe strongly in what I created and I’d do it again.
So, will I be at the courtroom when the verdict is read? No. I will not. Will I be out of Kuwait? No, I will not. I will be at the Kuwait University’s Faculty of Medicine administering an OSCE exam to future doctors and then I will be giving a lecture in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also at the Faculty of Medicine. So if the result of the trial is not in my favor, they know where to find me.
Today, April 23rd, it will be decided who the dumb fish in the desert is, and if it is not me, I will be working diligently on how to make sure things like this never happen again, not just for me but for anyone who can get caught up in such an unfair scenario where someone can bend and break the truth for personal gain citing unverified anonymous tweets as evidence in a courtroom. Any ideas you may have are welcome.
The gentleman suing me wants fame on my behalf. He wants to be a Big Fish by swallowing me. This trial will highlight what kind of sea Kuwait is and what kind of fish he is. I hope it’s neither big nor small. And if it is neither, let’s give him the fame he is looking for.