Former Kuwaiti Minister of Information Sami Abdullatif Al-Nesf said that one of the “chronic and hereditary diseases” from which Arab societies suffer “is that we have no problem with lies, deceit, and the use of falsification and fake media.” Comparing Arab culture to Western culture, where leaders are ousted for lying and dishonesty ruins relationships, he stressed that the Arab media are not to blame for this ”sorry state of affairs,” since they are merely a reflection of a culture which “often does not include an aspiration to sincerity or professionalism.” Al-Nesf was interviewed on BBC Arabic on July 27, 2018.
Following are excerpts:
Former Kuwaiti Minister of Information Sami Abdullatif Al-Nesf: The problem in our Arab societies is that we suffer from some chronic and hereditary diseases. One of these diseases – one that is relevant to the media and harms Islam – is that we have no problem with lies, deceit, and the use of falsification and fake media. This culture is deep-rooted among us. We all know, for example, that one of the most important U.S. presidents, Richard Nixon, was ousted for lying. We know that in the West, lies between husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend are cause for separation. In our parts, on the other hand, you rarely hear a speech by an official or a leader – especially our so-called "historical leaders" – without a huge amount of lies and promises. The same is true of personal relationships – lying is done on a daily basis. When a guy calls his girlfriend, a wife calls her husband, or vice versa…
Host: But what you are saying is that the public also subscribes to this culture. So the people in charge of the media subscribe to this culture, as do the consumers of the media themselves. Shouldn't one be able to expect complete objectivity?
Sami Abdullatif Al-Nesf: Exactly. The media is like a mirror. When you take a mirror to beautiful green pastures with water, it will reflect this. But if you take a mirror to a garbage dump, that's what it will reflect. Therefore, we should not blame the media. Media is a part of the sorry state of affairs in the Arab world. As I've said, this affects all aspects of life. A few days ago, the [FIFA] World Cup came to an end. Our Arab teams were knocked out in the first round. No wonder. Our culture, our perception of how to pursue a profession – whether in the media, in sports, in medicine, or whatever – often does not include an aspiration to sincerity or professionalism. Thus, our media reflects our situation in general, as well as our political situation, which is full of lies and deception.