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Kuwait: Sit-in to Rename “Journalism Street” After Al-Saleh Planned

Kuwaiti journalists are planning to stage a sit-in tonight (April 27) to demand the renaming of “Journalism Street” after the late Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh, who was one of the very well known Kuwaiti sarcastic columnists, who wrote for Al-Qabas newspaper for years, criticizing different political and social aspects found in everyday life.

His career in journalism involved establishing Al-Watan newspaper. Al-Saleh won the admiration of a lot of readers in Kuwait for the way he portrayed the Kuwaiti mentality. He had also won the Arab Media Award, from Dubai, for his long career in media and journalism.

This Sunday, netizens remembered his achievements and tweets grew in momentum asking the government to name what is commonly known as “Journalism Street” to “Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh Street” in tribute for what he had achieved for Kuwaiti journalism. The Municipal Minister, Fadhel Safar, has refused to take this suggestion – a decision that was received with condemnation by a lot of Kuwaitis, especially through Twitter using the hashtag #ShaikhAlKotab (The Doyen of Writers).

Ali Khaja, a young activist and columnist tweeted:

@AliKhaja: مومعقولة تُرفض تسمية شارع بإسم محمد مساعد الصالح..في حين إن المرحوم علي صباح السالم وزير لمدة خمس سنوات فقط عنده منطقة بإسمه
It is illogical to refuse naming a street after Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh while the late Ali Subah Al-Salem [from Al-Sabah Ruling Family] who was a minister for only five years, gets an area named after him.
A picture of the late Kuwaiti writer Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh. Image posted in blog of Kuwaiti writer Ibrahim Al-Mulaifi.

A picture of the late Kuwaiti writer Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh. Image posted in blog of Kuwaiti writer Ibrahim Al-Mulaifi.

Nabila Muzaffar, a notable female Kuwaiti voice on Twitter wrote:

@NabilaMuzaffar‎: أفضل كتابنا.. لماذا تسمى شوارعنا بأسماء لا تعني للكويتيين الكثير ويرفض تسمية شارع باسمه؟ مع ان اسمه أكبر من ذلك بكثير
He is the best of our writers. Why would streets be named after those who do not matter much to Kuwaitis while he does not get to have a street with his name on it, although he is way worthy of more than that.

Faisal Al-Qinai, head of the Journalists Association and columnist for Al-Seyassah newspaper also used Twitter to express his disagreement with the minister's decision:

@qanai50: رفض وزير البلدية صفر تسمية شارع الصحافة باسم محمد الصالح يعتبر كارثة وسقطة مدوية
The municipal minister's decision to reject naming a street after Mohammed Al-Saleh is considered disastrous and a big mistake.

Mishari Buyabis, a Twitter activist who is best known for his continuous criticism of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister which got him investigated by the State Security Police months ago, wrote:

@Buyabis: فاضل صفر يقول مو هو اللي رفض اطلاق اسم محمد مساعد الصالح على شارع الصحافه بل الرئيس،،يعني كأنك تقول انك أبجورة بالوزاره و مالك كلمه #عيب
[Minister] Fadhel Safar says it was not him that refused to name Journalism Street after Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh but the Prime Minister. It is like you are saying you are a chandelier at the ministry and have no say in it #Shame

Reactions against the Minister's decision were also expressed in a derogatory manner, by making fun of his Persian roots. Abdulwahab Al-Essa, Al-Watan TV anchor, mocked on Twitter Minister Safar's Persian accent, to express his refusal of the Minister's decision. Al-Issa once got himself in trouble when he described the Saudi national football team as “the remains of pilgrims” – because most of the squad members are black. He tweeted:

@awahab_alessa: شارع الصحافه يجب ان يسمى باسم شيخها محمد مساعد الصالح #فازل سفر لا يرجع وزاره
Journalism street should be named after its Shaikh (doyen) Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh. [Fazel Safar no come back to the ministry].

The last part of the tweet mocks the pronunciation of those with Persian roots, as well as their broken Arabic.

Another young Kuwaiti man, Khaled Al-Mutawa, mocked the minister's Persian background on Twitter, using the Kuwaiti stereotype that has always been practiced against Kuwaitis of Iranian background, describing them as being “bakers”. Al-Mutawa wrote:

@Almutawa13:: فاضل صفر رفض تسمية شارع الصحافه باسم شيخ الكتاب محمد مساعد الصالح!! فضولي اذا مت لا تحاتي راح اسمي خباز قطعه ٢ باسمك
Fadhel Safar refused to name Journalism Street after the Shaikh of writers Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh! [Fadholy], if you die, do not worry, I will call the baker in area 2 after your name.

Kuwaiti blogger and activist Ibrahim Al-Mulaifi [ar], on the other hand, chose to express his refusal of the decision to rename the street, by inviting people to a sit-in at Journalism Street today to demand naming it after Al-Saleh. He writes:

أعلم أن الوزير صفر لا يملك من أمره شيئا حاله حال بقية الوزراء في حكومات الشيخ ناصر المحمد وأعلم أيضا أن الحكومة لا تسمع من يكلمها بهدوء وتكره من ينصحها بالسر لذلك أدعو كافة الزملاء الصحافيين والإعلاميين وكل المهتمين الى الإعتصام في شارع الصحافة في المكان الذي عمل فيه وأحبه المرحوم محمد مساعد الصالح يوم الأربعاء القادم الموافق 27 ابريل 2011 الساعة السابعة مساء لمدة ساعة تعبيرا عن احتجاجنا لقرار رفض تسمية شارع الصحافة بأسم شيخ الكتاب محمد مساعد الصالح
I know that minister Safar does not have any authority just like the rest of ministers in the governments of Prime Minister Shiekh Naser Al-Mohammed, and I also know that the government does not listen to those who speak to it quietly and hates it when someone advices it in secret. Therefore, I invite all journalists and those interested to a sit-in in Journalism Street where the late Mohammed Mousaed Al-Saleh worked, on Wednesday, 27th of April, 2011, at 7.30pm to express our condemnation of rejecting to name the street after Al-Saleh.

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