June 28, 2021
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Police in Kuwait have arrested a resident — an Egyptian man — for posting a video online in which he rants about bad weather and dust storms. The arrest underscored the country’s restrictions on expression and drew criticism on social media Monday over his detention.
Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior said Sunday the person behind the “offensive” video was arrested and referred to authorities, which would “take the necessary legal action against him.”
In a dashboard camera video posted on the social media app TikTok, the man can be heard complaining about the blinding sandstorm that has engulfed Kuwait for the past few days.
“I’m inside a dust storm right now, I literally can’t see anything in front of me,” the man says, showing the dust coating the highway like a thick fog.
“Fine, Kuwait, fine,” he adds, with an expletive in Arabic. The clip went viral on Twitter, racking up tens of thousands of views.
Some social media users, who saw the arrest as a sign of Kuwait’s crackdown on free speech and mistreatment of migrant workers, showed their support for the Egyptian man by posting their own videos insulting the weather.
In a region full of governments hostile to free expression, the Gulf Arab state of Kuwait stands out for its outspoken parliament and relatively vibrant civic life. However, authorities routinely use the cybercrime law to police criticism and prosecute dissidents.
The tiny sheikhdom, which like others in the Persian Gulf depends on the labor of millions of low-paid migrants from Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, often faces criticism from human rights groups for its treatment of foreign workers, who remain vulnerable to deportation for minor offenses.