As I expected a few days ago in my post, Al Fadhala has been released to a waiting and anxious crowd of supporters, amid cheers and tears. His case has been well-supported during his incarceration, mostly by people he either knew or were related to in some other way. The blogosphere was alight with news and events and criticism of everything from the court's decision to the PM's arrogance. So it's no surprise that when he was eventually released after his second hearing yesterday, everyone was ecstatic. Personally, I was following every Tweet during his hearing, thanks to Om9edda and others, so when I read about his immediate release, I felt as if a big load was just lifted off my chest, as I'm sure everyone else did when he emerged in his prison garbs. Hell, even the prison cops were smiling, for God's sake :) One of Kuwait's sons, who was imprisoned for political reasons, has been released by the power of the Law.
As I understand it, Khalid's a convicted felon now, his felony being that of slander against the Prime Minister in person, believe it or not. But instead of serving 3 months in jail, the judge commuted his sentence to the 10 days already served, upheld the KD150 fine and sent him off. So, he's still legally guilty of a felony, which makes him ineligible to run for office, according to Article 2, Section 1 of Kuwait's Elections Law, unless and until he's cleared his record with a Court's order. Worst-case scenario if he doesn't run for office, he'd be a very influential political activist.
Fueled with more wrath and a much clearer insight into the ugly truth of Kuwaiti Politics in the 21st Century, he will undoubtedly be pursuing more concrete evidence of the Government's inability to fix the state of corruption and developmental degradation we're in today. Khalid has a heavier responsibility to shoulder, now that he's achieved what many politicians live & die for; political immortality, just like his name.
He will need to enlighten his followers about the truth behind the lies, he will need to be an example of what a proper Political Activist should be in Kuwait; A cordial, soft-spoken diplomat, skilled enough to tell you to go to hell in such a way that would make you look forward to the trip. He would also need to show restraint when facing the opposition, whoever, whatever and wherever they are, and that's the tricky part, I suppose. The men and women around him who will attend his speeches and listen to them intently will have to be told what road to take in order to succeed. The interviews he will be giving will have to show that he hasn't changed as a consequence of his indictment and imprisonment, and that he will continue to pursue corruption and it's figureheads until it's leaders are exposed and brought to justice.
In Kuwait that's a tall order, as many of these people have layers and layers of protection around them, chiefly among them are some MP's and high-ranking officials within the Government Ministries, who may be protected themselves through blood relations, association, or in some cases, collaboration and blackmail. However, as long as there are people like Khalid Al Fadhala, who have shown that they are more than willing to pay the price for their bold determination to effect positive change, things can only get better for all of us.
Today, Kuwait is a better place, Kuwaiti Democracy is a more mature heritage, Kuwaiti Justice is not as politicized as once accused, and Kuwaiti society has ultimately become a more enlightened and more determined one, all thanks to the PM's insistence to sue anyone who would criticize his office. Today, there lives another hero of the people, a righteous one, who has everything to lose and is still unafraid. It won't be long before more like him prop up and take center stage, only this time, there won't be any invisible puppet masters to dictate how and what to say, like some existing MP's.
Today, for the first time in a long time, the Government is worried, really worried.