Ahmad Al-Sarraf (AAS) is the Founder and Chairman of Kuwait Friendship and Humanitarian Society. Al-Sarraf is also a columnist for Al Qabas newspaper based in Kuwait. For more information regarding his work and his writings, visit his website: http://kalamanas.com.
Ahmad, liberals in our country are trying to reclaim the narrative today. Sadly, the word "liberal" is considered negative by some people. Liberals have an agenda, they say. Well, hats off to anyone whose agenda is opening our minds and hearts. What does the word liberal mean to you, Ahmad? And how do you think liberals can help our country without making others feel threatened?
There is no general consensus on what liberalism means. Its meaning is determined by each and every person, depending on his/her educational and cultural background. To me, liberalism means freedom of choice; it combines ideas of civil liberty, equality, social justice to all. It means, for example, in the most sensitive matters, that the woman, for example, is the one who owns her body and she decides whether she wants to give birth or abort herself. It is her choice.
When you were asked whether you support the LGBTGQ+ community in Kuwait, you responded: "Kuwait is not a store which you own where you get to pick what you exhibit or what you oppose; rather, it is a country for all and nobody has the right—morally, constitutionally, or in a humanitarian way—to say we accept you and we refuse you." How can we move forward when there are still many voices against the LGBTQ+ community today?
Dealing with LGBTQ is not much different ... than dealing with any minorities. Minorities ... regardless of their type or affiliation, are subject to injustice, especially when it comes to color, sect, religion or gender, and all of these problems can’t be addressed or overcome without a proper educational system.
How can we get more people to use their platform to create a community which embraces inclusivity?
Here, too, we need to use education and change or improve school curriculums, and urge governments to encourage discussions through the official media and social platforms.
In this part of the world, we lament about Islamophobia, but we have Christo-phobia, Judeo-phobia, Hindu-phobia, Sikh-phobia, agnostic phobia, atheism phobia, stateless phobia, and homophobia. In your opinion, why do we have all these phobias?
Man's fear of anything is mainly due to his ignorance of that matter. When ignorance is removed, fear will disappear. Knowledge is the light that shines in a darkened room.
Finally, we claim to be an open, hospitable country. This seems to describe our ancestors and forefathers. Today, expatriates are intimidated by us. The treatment of residents in the last few years has been especially disturbing. What are your thoughts regarding this?
Also, here we find ourselves in need of education, developing our curriculum, and urging people, through various media platforms, to respect others and coexist with them.
(This interview has been edited).