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It can be risky to be a camera (or a DSLR photographer) in Kuwait

Raed Qutena / EPA file

A demolished TV studio is seen after an angry crowd stormed a Kuwaiti private television station on Oct. 17, 2010. Fajr al-Saeed, owner of the station, said she had received threats to her life after the talk show "Zain wa Shain" ("Good and Bad") was aired.

When this television studio was attacked in October, the AP reported that:

Kuwait has some of the most vibrant political debate and press freedoms in the Gulf, but censorship is widespread across the Middle East and journalists often face tight controls[...]

Interior Minister Sheik Jaber Al Khaled Al Sabah told the Arab Times newspaper that authorities had the attackers in custody.

"We will not accept an attack against anybody," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "This is an offensive act and it is not in line with our customs. We are on top of the situation to forestall further degeneration."

Since that time, the Kuwaiti Parliament has debated whether or not Scope TV should be able to broadcast after airing a "malicious program," according to the Arab Times.

Also, the Guardian reports this week that Kuwait has banned the use of digital single-lens-reflex (DSLR) cameras in Kuwait, citing a local English-language newspaper:

The Kuwait Times reports: "What most Kuwaiti photographers have come to wonder is how such a decision could be reached by authorities, especially considering digital cameras and cell phone cameras have the same abilities.

"What most people think of photography as a hobby has become a bit misguided due to the fact that the country has so little exposure to art."

Digital SLR cameras may have been targeted as "big black camera[s] tend to worry people", the newspaper said. "Taking a picture of a stranger would seem like much less of an issue if you were using a more discreet camera or even a cell phone."

This is a downright strange policy. My Micro Four Thirds point-and-shoot camera has 60% of the sensor size as a chip in a professional DSLR. My iPhone takes very nice, fairly big files. Why ban the big cameras? More the point, why ban any cameras? I wonder this in particular given how nice some of the DSLR pictures of Kuwait on Flickr are. From pictures from unusual perspectives to celebrations of development to beautiful landscapes to pictures of kids to nature photographs, it's hard to understand why a nation would want to restrict high-quality amateur images of its sights. See all of the Flickr pictures tagged "Kuwait" and "DSLR" here on Flickr.

Oh wait--it's not just Kuwait. We've asked here, about American laws, "Is photography a crime"? The comment thread on that post is worth reading and contributing to as well.