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Minister served nation in darkest political moments

Mohammad Abu Al Hassan came from a well-known Shiite family and served Kuwait well in its darkest political moments as the country's permanent representative to the United Nations.

Gulf News

Mohammad Abu Al Hassan came from a well-known Shiite family and served Kuwait well in its darkest political moments as the country's permanent representative to the United Nations.

He was appointed Minister of Information in July 2003, a hero to the cause of Kuwait during and after the invasion by Iraq.

Eighteen months later, on Sunday, he resigned in a cloud, one day before conservative elements in parliament were to question him for violating public morals and Sharia law by allowing western style concerts. The minister has been a target ever since he permitted the staging of the Star Academy musical programme in 2003 after ignoring appeals by the Islamist MPs and religious organisations to ban it.

Hundreds of Islamists demonstrated against the programme which was aired all over the Arab world by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation.

Kuwait had its own teenage contender Bashar Al Shatti, who was welcomed as a superstar by teenagers after he won second place, but the Islamists were not amused.

Abu Al Hassan's biggest conservative critic MP Waleed Al Tabtabaei and two other Islamist MPs Awad Al Barad and Faisal Al Mislem threatened to question him early last year on the grounds that he was promoting immorality by allowing musical concerts and then permitting the mixing of the sexes.

In May last year, the three MPs decided to postpone the questioning after the Cabinet issued stringent regulations, which included a ban on all forms of dancing, and requiring families and unaccompanied men to sit separately.

During the Eid holidays last November, however, the Islamists again accused the minister of not following the regulations set by the National Assembly for organising concerts following the front page picture of singers Elissa and Ragheb Alama in a post-performance hug in the daily Al Watan. The motion to question the minister was filed on December 20 and the questioning was to have taken place yesterday.

Kuwait's Premier Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad came out strongly in the minister's defence twice and independent and liberal MPs were rallying around to support him in his darkest hour when the Al Rai Al Aam newspaper scandal hit Abu Al Hassan hard.

Director for the Centre for Strategic and Future studies Dr Shamlan Al Eisa told Gulf News, "His decision to interfere last week in the judicial controversy over the ownership of the licence of Al Rai Al Aam is what killed Abu Al Hassan. The Supreme Court ruled to dissolve the assets, but Abu Al Hassan interfered, he had no legal justification and very correctly was criticised.

"The Islamists did not win here, the government lost," Al Eisa said. "Abu Al Hassan is a victim of government policy and it does not matter who replaces him, the turmoil will continue as long as the government keeps making deals with the Islamists."

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