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All interviewed experts agreed that the Islam has the strongest influence on the media and all aspects of the Muslim country.
But since the Islam is the main source of Kuwait’s legislation and a more conservative government is ruling the country at the moment, there are some strict limitations of these freedoms: Criticism of the Emir, insulting the Islam or its fundamental values and violating public morality are forbidden and sometimes punished with draconian measures.
Electronic media are monitored with special care and imported foreign media have to be censored to comply with the Islamic idea of morality.
The internet was struck particularly hard by new, heavily criticised laws which give the government even broader powers of restriction.
Imported media are censored with particular care (Foreign Office, 2016a).
For example, Bakayae (2015) wrote an article for the Kuwait Times about his experience watching the movie Mad Max – Fury Road in cinema: “These women are dressed adequately in a sort of white loincloth, but you wouldn’t know this if you haven’t seen the trailers of the film.
To launch daily newspapers, publishers need an operating license from the MOI, which requires a capital of at least 893,000 dollars, according to the press law of 2006. At least the ministry has to explain if they don’t issue a license within those 90 days which can then be appealed in court.
And once given, media licenses can only be withdrawn with a court order (Freedom House, 2015).
Consequently, between 20 Kuwait slipped down from rank 57 to 59 in the Freedom House report and from rank 78 to 103 in the ranking of Reporters Without Borders.
Besides the respective reports, other documents and literature, the following portrait is based on four expert interviews conducted in summer 2016.
State censorship Although parts of the mass media are privately owned and the Press and Publications Law also extends some important protections to the media, the state leadership still enjoys control to a large extent.
Just like in other Arab countries the state wields direct and indirect control over the mass media and uses mass communication “as an instrument to mobilize and control the people according to the direction and interest as determined by the leadership” (Nossek & Rinnawi, 2003: 186; Freedom House, 2015).
This is because in Kuwait’s cinemas, they are airbrushed from neck to toe and reduced to floating heads on a white and sometimes black box.