At the Al Watan Academy – a media and journalism summer course supervised by Al Watan journalists and news reporters – we had daily lectures. Each day we would have a different guest speaker. Sometimes it would be a journalist, sometimes a radio host, sometimes a news reporter, sometimes a TV show host, any Al-Watan employee. On June 23rd, Mubarak Al Qinae was the guest speaker. If you don’t know him, he’s a journalist for the Al Watan newspaper and a reporter for Al Watan TV. He also has his own YouTube channel, so you can look up his videos and watch his reports to get an idea of why I don’t like this guy. Although he’s Kuwaiti, and claims he loves his country, most of his video reports consist of clips that exploit the people of Kuwait, making them out to be greedy, uncivilized, violent, and ignorant – to say the least of what his videos are conveying. Here is an example: in one of his videos, he was interviewing Kuwaiti protesters near the Parliament; the protesters were demanding that the Parliament be dismissed, as they were not fulfilling the needs of the citizens. There were approximately 15 citizens standing outside the Parliament protesting. Mr. Mubarak’s camera focuses on a 45-year-old mother with her mentally disabled son, and he gives the microphone to the challenged teenage boy, who says something incoherent. In my personal opinion, that was an unnecessary move – and he did not do it for the sake of ‘bringing out the truth’; he did it for the sake of having a good report. In another report, he filmed the Parliament members fighting with each other, as he was coincidentally in the room on the day of the incident. That particular report was absolutely humiliating to watch; moreover, you could hear Mubarak’s laughter behind the camera.
Point is, I don’t like this guy. And I had a feeling he would be saying something he shouldn’t be saying. I sometimes get these feelings, from people who give off bad vibes. When I do, I make a point of paying extra attention to every word they say, because I know they’re going to slip, and if I don’t catch their tongue slipping, no one else will. And on that day, I was glad that I have this habit – a lot of people tell me it’s a bad habit, that I try to pick out people’s mistakes. But I am the type of person that can’t keep quiet about wrong being done or said.
After showing off his work, a series of report after report, he started talking to us about writing articles. First, he talked about the necessary steps of writing an investigative report. He used the following example [translated]: “Let’s say you’re writing an investigative report about how the students of AUK don’t dress conservatively. It’s not enough to just state it using words. You need visual aid. So you get a picture of a couple of guys wearing shorts, or girls wearing something over their knee.” And my eyes bugged out of their sockets. I could not believe my ears.
That was his first mistake.
His second came with his second example. He told us he was at Taiwan once for a mini-vacation, and thought that while he was there, he should do a feature report on Buddhist temples. So he went to a Buddhist temple, got a few pictures, along with the information he needed, and put it together. Back in Kuwait, the article was ready for publishing, except he couldn’t come up with a title. His co-worker named it: الصلاة و الوضوء و الركوع تجمع بين الاسلام و البوذية [prayer, washing, and kneeling are common factors in Islam and Buddhism] which was true. But Mr. Mubarak had a different point of view on this. Specifically, “Ana ma ri’6ait! Mako mu8arana bain deenna w deenhom. Deenna deen samawi w may9eer nijma3 bain deenna w deenhom…..” [I did not allow this title to be published. Our religion and their religion can not be compared nor combined.] and from there he followed with a series of Buddhist jokes that I don’t think are necessary to write down.
At this point I was enraged. But I bit my tongue, because I knew that if I would tell him that he was wrong in front of everyone, I would probably be stopped by one of the supervisors because it is ‘undermining to his authority’. So I waited for half an hour, until the lunch break. Everyone else left the auditorium, and I stayed. I approached Mr. Mubarak, who was still standing on stage, saying thank you to all the students that were kissing up to him and thanking him for such a “wonderful” and “enlightening” lecture”. After the last kiss-up left, I asked Mr. Mubarak to have a seat. Had he been a humble man, he would have spoken to me while sitting by my side or in front of me. But no, he liked to keep the status difference clear by staying on stage looking down on me while I looked up at him; it must’ve given him a false sense of superiority.
So I told him that I didn’t find it necessary for him to mock Buddhist beliefs and rituals. I told him that he was supposed to respect all religions, because a person’s relationship with what he believes is his creator is a private one.
He told me he didn’t have to. He told me that our religion was the best religion, and that it was insulting to our religion to be put in the same category as a religion that wasn’t “sent from the sky”, AKA non-samawi. And he told me that after all, they got most of their religion’s beliefs from us. Like it was a copyright theft kind of deal! I tried repeating myself, told him that regardless, he had no right to mock them, or any other religion. I told him that it was his OPINION of Islam being the best religion, it was not a fact. I told him that as a guest speaker, anything he is telling us students, we will absorb as pure fact. So he had to be careful about what he stated as a fact, when it was purely his opinion. He told me no, it was a fact that Islam was the best religion. At this point I was starting to realize just how closed-minded this guy was, and how insistent he was that his beliefs were the right beliefs, and his morals were ethical ones. Because the truth is, not every book on Earth is going to say that Islam is the best religion. Some would, probably the Islamic ones, naturally, but not non-Islamic books. I didn’t bother pointing out his second mistake when he annoyed me and said, “Do you expect me to respect a man that worships a donkey?” And I said yes. He laughed. I got up. He said [“you don’t seem convinced by what I am saying] and I said [“I don’t have to be convinced”].
We were a total of approximately 80 guys and girls, and the guest speakers presenting to us were considered mentors coming to teach us the skills of the profession of journalism! So when someone who is supposedly an expert comes and tells the 40 guys with us that they should hunt down girls dressed in what is in their opinion “inappropriate”, take photographs of their legs, and publish them in a national newspaper, a lot of the guys will apply that in their professions later on! If his work ethics are rotten, why would he feel the need to create more journalists of his type?
I’m re-telling the tale today because apparently he actually brought it up to a friend of mine at the diwaniya recently. My friend is a distant cousin of his. I felt proud that I impacted him to the degree that he still remembers that one girl was, for once, not impressed with what he had to say. Pretty significant.
* proof that one should never keep quiet about wrong being done or said. *