July 30, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9474

From The MEMRI TV Archives: Liberal Kuwaiti Scholar And Activist Nasser Dashti, Who Was Recently Arrested, Interrogated For 'Blasphemy,' And Released, Clashes With Islamists And Calls For Reform

July 30, 2021
Kuwait | Special Dispatch No. 9474

According to online reports, on July 28, 2021, Kuwaiti liberal scholar and activist Nasser Dashti was arrested by Kuwaiti authorities and interrogated for "blasphemy" because of statements he made online and in TV appearances. Dashti is known for his fierce criticism of religious authorities in Islamic-majority countries. He was released the following day, July 29., July 28, 2021.

Over the past five years, MEMRI TV has published a number of clips of Dashti. Below are the clips.

MEMRI TV Clip No. 7242 – Nasser Dashti: We Need Cultural, Secular Reform; Western Societies Are Better Than Ours Because They Admit Their Failures, Learn Through Self-Criticism, March 21, 2019

Dashti said in a March 21, 2019 interview on Al-Rawdatain TV (Kuwait) that reform cannot be political and that it must be cultural. He said reform begins with education, media, the spreading of secular culture, and confrontation of those who oppose secularism through debate. He added that secular societies openly own up to their mistakes and develop through experience and self-criticism. He said: "The difference between us and them is that we hide [our failures] from the media." He criticized religion for encouraging people against art, for dividing the family, for destroying countries, and for turning people against scientific research by forcing them to accept the "cartoon-like stories" found in religious texts.


To view this clip, click here or below:

MEMRI TV Clip No. 6460 – Nasser Dashti: When Religion Is Presented As An Ideology, It Is More Dangerous Than A Nuclear Weapon, January 12, 2018

In an interview on Sky News Arabia, Dashti said that "when religion is presented as an ideological platform, it is more dangerous than a nuclear weapon." Dashti, a member of the Tanweer Center for Culture, said that in order to make progress, a nation needs to criticize its history and confront its old notions and ideas, but that the Islamic nation "to this day, employs rhetoric of veneration and glorification of what happened 1,400 years ago." He further said that he was not surprised by the violence of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Popular Mobilization Units and that "all ISIS did was to take a camera and point it at our heritage." He added that "ISIS is a product of our own culture," not of the West. The interview aired on January 12.


To view this clip, click here or below:

MEMRI TV Clip No. 5964 – Nasser Dashti Clashes With Islamist Journalist Saeed Tawfiki Over Freedom Of Belief, March 9, 2017

In a Kuwaiti TV debate on Islam and secularism, Dashti criticized the Islamic movement, which he said "has always wanted to kill the apostates... and to ban nightclubs, parties, and singing, so that people would not get excited" and called to restrict Islam to affairs of the individual. Making a plea for freedom of belief, Dashti drew a comparison to Germany, which, he said, swiftly turned from Nazism into a democratic and secular state that accepts refugees. The Islamic movement, in contrast, "has been unable to come up with a religious enterprise, and has been harping on the same issues" for 13 centuries, said Dashti. The debate aired on Alshahed TV on March 11.

To view this clip, click here or below:

MEMRI TV Clip No. 5721 – Nasser Dashti: Syrian Crisis Proved Failure of Religious System – Refugees Flee to Europe, Not The Arab World, October 15, 2016

Dashti said that the secular system is better than the religious one "by light years." Speaking in a TV debate with Islamist Ali Abu Al-Hassan, who champions the establishment of an Islamic religious state, he said that the refugees fleeing from Syria prefer to die at sea in an attempt to reach Europe than to live under Islamic rule in Mecca or Najaf. The debate aired on Al-Baheth online TV on October 16.

To view this clip, click here or below:

MEMRI TV Clip No. 5597 – Secular And Islamist Scholars Clash During Kuwaiti TV Debate On Arab Youth Engagement With Terror Organizations; Nasser Dashti: Time To Remove Religion From Public Life, July 10, 2016

In a TV debate on Arab young people's engagement with ISIS and other terror organizations, Dashti and liberal activist Ayed Al-Manna clashed with Islamic sheikhs Abdallah Al-Hamdan and Khaled Al-Sultan. The latter compared the extremism of the Islamist terror organizations to extremism he alleged exists among secular Arabs, saying that "the same crimes are committed by both camps." Dashti and Al-Manna argued that although the Islamic scholars repeatedly emphasized that they do not support ISIS, their statements are in line with ISIS ideology. Dashti concluded that the time has come to remove religion from public life in the Arab world and to confine it to the private sphere. The show aired on the Kuwaiti Al-Shahed TV on July 11.

To view this clip, click here or below:


MEMRI TV Clip No. 5426 – Nasser Dashti: Islamic Conquests Constitute Colonialism; The Arab Mentality Is Sectarian, Dictatorial, Tyrannical, March 25, 2016

Dashti, speaking on the Kuwaiti Al-Shahed TV channel, said: "On the cultural level, we are sectarian, dictatorial, and tyrannical. Sadly, that is the Arab mentality." On the practical level, he said, "our ruling system is democratic, we are liberal and secular in our daily lives, using everything that was ever produced by the secular European mind." Dashti further said that in political science, "those Islamic conquests constitute colonialism." The show aired on March 26.


To view this clip, click here or below:

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