Monday, November 21, 2011

Seven Little Words in Kuwait

[This turned out to be one of my favorite blog posts of 2011. Check out my other 2011 favorite "Scarry Thoughts" blog posts here!]

I've been working with the film about Guantanamo, "The Response," for over two years now.

By now I know the dialog by heart; sometimes I recite it as if I wrote it myself. And it has always seemed to me as if everyone else should be thinking about that dialog, too.

But I never thought I'd see the day that the dialog from "The Response" was being adopted by activists in countries as far away as Kuwait to challenge U.S. detention practices.

The message above came in the context of a public information campaign in Kuwait to push for the liberation of two Kuwaitis who are still held in Guantanamo: Fahiz Al-Kandari and Fawzi Al-Odah. It recites the central challenge of "The Response": "the response matters; our response defines us."

(See additional coverage at Arab Times Online.)

We are all learning in real time about how politics is conducted in the Mideast. In recent months, the words "Tahrir Square" have fundamentally changed our understanding of politics everywhere. (See: "the Occupy movement.")

And now add one more concept to the list: diwan. "Diwan" and "diwaniya" are the places that people in Kuwait gather to discuss and debate current affairs. (What they do after they meet in the diwan/diwaniya depends on circumstances .... )

Diwan + film + Twitter = ?

It's a new world.

Related posts

The defense team for the Guantanamo detainee Fayiz al Kandari was in Kuwait this week, publicizing the case and encouraging people there to demand that the United States government release the two Kuwaitis held at Guantanamo.

(See People in Kuwait Raising Their Voices Against Guantanamo )

I believe Easter is God's gift to humanity of victory over death, hopelessness and frailty, and I believe that God is alive and in our midst. The witness of the Guantanamo lawyers has confirmed me in those beliefs.

(See Easter Victory: The Guantanamo Lawyers )

My most prominent memory of my first viewing of the Guantanamo film, The Response, is of one of the stars of the film -- Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek fame -- participating in a panel after the screening. I was blown away when she said, "I did this because our civil liberties in our country have been gravely damaged and we all need to contribute to repairing them."

(See Understanding What Guantanamo Means