American Teacher Detained in Kuwait!

by Reema on June 26, 2007

in Kuwait Affairs, News & Politics

This letter was emailed to me by a friend of mine which in my personal opinion is very disturbing, the letter originally was posted in the International Schools Review web page. I can’t help but feel more disgusted towards my country and people wonder why i’m always angry when it comes to Kuwaiti politics and society!

FROM: Katherine Phillips, Al-Bayan Bilingual School Middle School Deputy Principal, Kuwait
US PASSPORT NUMBER: xxxxx9279 – (contact ISR if needed)
TO: Whom It May Concern
DATE: June 21, 2007
RE: Detained in Kuwait/In Fear for My Safety

I am a Middle School Vice-Principal at Al-Bayan Bilingual School in Kuwait. I have been employed in Kuwait for 6 years at the same school. One of my primary responsibilities is student discipline. On March 8, 2006, three boys in grade 5 were suspended for fighting. I interviewed the boys, met with my principal and followed normal procedure. There is no stigma here regarding suspension. Students spend the day in the office where they study, are visited by teachers, and are taken to the canteen, etc. It’s a normal consequence for fighting; all students are aware of this and the procedure is clearly defined in our Parent Handbook.

In the afternoon of March 8th, I received a phone call from one of the boys’ fathers, Mr. Fawaz Khalid Al Marzouq, who is a powerful man in Kuwait. He called to inform me that this situation was “personal,” that he is “friends with the emir” and that he planned to “destroy” me. This conversation, which last about 9 minutes, was littered with profanities and threats.

On March 11, 2006, the parents met with me, my principal and our director, Dr. Brian McCauley, to discuss the suspension. The father requested that if there was an issue involving his child that I would call him immediately.

On April 27, 2006, I was requested to write a synopsis of events and to visit the Ministry of Education to answer questions regarding the suspension, describe the room in which the boys spent the school day and provide a copy of our handbook.

In June 2006, the father transferred his children to a different private school in Kuwait. Also, we received notification from the Ministry of Education that in-school suspensions were no longer to be applied; instead, parents must be contacted to take their children home.

In February 2007, I learned that a case had been filed against me at the Jabriya Police Department in Kuwait; the charge was “illegal detainment” of his son on March 8, 2006. I answered questions in my director’s presence and the Consul from the US Embassy, Mr. Sonny Busa. My lawyer was also present. The police did not suggest that there was any reason for me to be concerned as all of the questions were answered to the apparent satisfaction.

On June 13, 2007, I was at the Kuwait International Airport intending to fly to Bahrain. I was stopped at immigration where I was informed that there was a case against me, pending further investigation and that a travel ban had been placed on me. I had not been informed. My lawyer had not been informed. This travel ban was placed upon me
15 months after the boy was suspended. The parent said that he would make this personal and this seems to be what he is intent upon doing.

On Saturday, June 16, 2007, I visited the American Embassy where I met with the Vice Consul, Mr. Jared Caplan, who informed me that he sympathized but could do nothing to lift the travel ban. He suggested that I get an older Kuwaiti man to appeal to Mr. Marzouq. I was told on Wednesday that my file would be transferred to another agency for review so the ban could be lifted. Five working days later, the whereabouts of my file are uncertain. I have been told that my file is in 2 different places; this seems to be a delay tactic. Why? Because I angered an influential Kuwaiti national who is at the top of the social register both locally and at the US Embassy?

On I visited the office of a police inspector named Falah Al Otaibi, whose office is in Salmiya. He is a police official who was to evaluate my file and determine if I could leave or not. He stated that he didn’t have my file. I visited him on June 17th and 18th. On June 18th, not five minutes after I left his office with my director, the Business Officer of my school and another school representative, I called Mr. Jared Caplan, Vice-Consul at the US Embassy to gain his insight into the situation and to see if any progress had been made to help me leave. He was completely aware of my visit to Mr. Al Otaibi’s office and instructed that I not return as it “interfered.”

Several Kuwaiti families are aware of my situation but they are not in a position to help or they don’t want to get involved. They have ALL said that I should go to my embassy because my embassy can help me. The fact that the embassy can’t seems shocking to everyone. Many people also question why this accusation from Mr. Marzouk is placed solely on me – not the school, not the principal, not the director of school. I feel that I am being used as an example because I am a single, American woman and he wants to show others that he can do what he said which is to “destroy” me.

Yesterday, June 20, 2007, I received a paper from Mr. Al Otaibi’s office in Salmiya which lifted the travel ban. This waiver had been granted by the Kuwait Minister of the Interior. Not long after the Minister released me, he reverted his decision at the request of the Marzouq family or his representatives. I went to the airport last night, only to learn that I couldn’t leave.

I am in fear for my safety. If the Embassy can’t help me, then who can? I contacted the FBI in Riyad, Saudi Arabia yesterday and talked to “Mike” who couldn’t give me his last name. He was non-committal but did suggest that he thought the embassy should be able to get me out.

Mr. Sonny Busa has informed me that they are “working on it.” That seems a little vague and I am not sure if the US Embassy completely realizes the level of danger that I feel that I am in. Why does Mr. Marzouq want me in Kuwait during the summer when no one from my school will be in country to offer their support? To make me feel vulnerable? He is well-connect and his friends are supporting his mission to damage me in any way that he can. What’s next?

I do not feel safe. I am not safe. I need someone from the US to acknowledge the urgency of my situation and coordinate my release. I committed no crime. I am simply the victim of “wasta” which roughly translates into “influence/pressure” at a high level.

My mobile phone number is: 965-6298331

Fawaz Khalid Al Marzouq: Another Kuwaiti fucktard who thinks he’s all high and mighty.

UPDATE: I just emailed this story to Oprah Winfrey maybe she could do something to help this poor woman.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

The Stalion June 26, 2007 at 5:19 am

Your typical example of the parent of a spoiled child. I remember that back in the 80’s up to the mid 90’s the parents were all for what the vice principal did and they would thank her for it since that is the proper action. Now a days it seems like parents keep the up-bringing to be done by the domestic help (khadama) and the parents get angry at anyone else who decides to discipline the child for the wrongful thing that child has done.

I wish Ms. Phillips the best of luck!

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pearls June 27, 2007 at 3:46 am

I never thought this can actually happen here.

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The Bohmian June 27, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Does terrorizing a woman feel good to him? Has he fogotten what Allah and the phrophet taught us? “Ir7amu man il ar’6, yr7amkom men fisama2.” She just did her job, it’s business; descipline! It ain’t personal.

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Reema June 27, 2007 at 5:56 pm

The Stallion: So true, i bet his kid would turn just like him.
Pearls: Oh it happens I’ve heard worst stories then this one.
The Bohmain: I don’t think this sorry excuse of a man would even think about Allah and his prophet (pbuh) he amuses himself by hurting others.

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Marina June 27, 2007 at 9:40 pm

are you 100 % sure the teachers story is true ? this is a case in court thats why she is not allowed to leave is not detained against her will in his house or attacked or beaten ? itha ana rifa3t 3laich qathiya tinman3ain mn il safar wa ay wa7id 7as ina 3nda 7ad ygdar yrfa3 gathiya hatha il qanoon !! b3dain 3n il alfath il sakheeefa wa tkabroon il mawthooo3 and i do’nt think this woman is above the law and if she didnt do anything wroong why is she worried ? this is not the godfather. sending an email to oprah litashweeeh sum3at bladih is just fucked up. I lost or respect for you and your blog your just a stupid bitch. get your facts straight dear before jumping to conlusions everyone has a right to seek justice and sue whether you agree or not

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Reema June 27, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Marina: LOL! you’re hilarious, 3ad et9adgeen ana mayta 3ala yr respect, i was kinda waiting for a twit like you to make a comment like that heheheh and you’re right I AM A BITCH 😀

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Aaron June 29, 2007 at 5:50 pm

in Kuwait teachers discipline students for the wrong reasons and in the states teachers have intimate relationship with students “sex” , its good that some dads still care in Kuwait and wont let students get punished for any reason , and regarding Oprah Winfrey well i don’t think she would give a shit about this Principal incident what she really should do is make a show regarding sex and drugs at schools in the states.. lol ..at my school in Boston we have condom machines in our rest roams i bet you don’t have those in Kuwait . babe I’m sure she deserve what she is getting i bet she thought since she is all American and all mighty she cant be touched well i guess she will think twice next time she wants to punish some one i hope she will get kicked out of Kuwait and bring her ass back here to the states so we can kick her ass too hhh …I’m sure she will get out of Kuwait eventually and our embassy will provide the lawyer to help her out…. by the way i served in Kuwait for two years and i was amazed by how much kindness and generosity the Kuwaitis showed me such a peaceful place to be i wish i would go back there again one day 🙂

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Reema June 29, 2007 at 6:50 pm

Aaron:
“in Kuwait teachers discipline students for the wrong reasons and in the states teachers have intimate relationship with students “sex””

It’s not right to generalize all teachers. What the principle did was according to school regulations: everyone is forgetting why the three boys were punished because they were fighting.

“its good that some dads still care in Kuwait and wont let students get punished for any reason “

Ah sorry but this “dad” is acting like a jackass. He is a bad example to his son. So I’m guessing from your statement above the lesson learned here is: “if i get in trouble and i know I’m wrong my daddy is going to bail me out”!!!!

“at my school in Boston we have condom machines in our rest roams i bet you don’t have those in Kuwait”

You have a point: sex is very taboo in Kuwait. There should be sex education in our schools. Trust me it would solve a lot of problems especially with teenagers.

“babe I’m sure she deserve what she is getting i bet she thought since she is all American and all mighty ..”

No! You have it twisted HUN!!! It’s that stupid kid’s father who thinks he’s all high and mighty. As an experience principle who lived in Kuwait for 6 years i think she did her job pretty well. As for Al Marzouq he’s officially the laughing stock in the blog world for acting like a spoiled brat.

“by the way i served in Kuwait for two years and i was amazed by how much kindness and generosity the Kuwaitis showed me such a peaceful place to be i wish
i would go back there again one day”

BuLLLLL Shittttt!!! You are not American!!! According to your IP address you ARE in Kuwait. Peace Out!!!

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Aaron June 29, 2007 at 7:16 pm

wow that was fast ….
“BuLLLLL Shittttt!!! You are not American!!! According to your IP address you ARE in Kuwait. Peace Out“

check my ip now hehe i can connect from anywhere in the globe so dont try to find me and yaah your full of shittttt!!!!

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Aaron June 29, 2007 at 7:24 pm

by the way your envited to joine our forum at http://www.politicalcrossfire.com
i think you will like it 😛

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Reema June 29, 2007 at 7:25 pm

Aaron: lol I’m not trying to find you or anything, i usually check all visitor’s ip addresses to my blog, and thanks for the invite will do 🙂

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Shahara June 29, 2007 at 10:11 pm

To Marina and Aaron:

Marina you preach about the law, how it works and having justice. You also go on talking about getting your facts straight and how people should seek justice whether you agree or not.

Marina you should practice what you preach!!! Ms. Phillips was following school policy (which is the law of the school, how it works and justified). Now, can you explain to me how Mr. Fawaz Khalid Al Marzouq is justified for harassing Ms. Phillips? What did she do that was unreasonable or outright wrong??? The boys received the same punishment any other student would have received for their childish actions. Could either of you (Marina/Aaron) tell me what should have been done in replace of the punishment the boys received.

I’m from America and I’m not saying we don’t have shallow people in our country: “believe me we do.” Some Americans believe they are better then the rest and should be treated differently, however, when they are comforted with their shallow stupidity they step back and take it into consideration. Some will realize their unrealistic reasoning and others wouldn’t budge. Many don’t budge because their ego is bigger than their cognitive thought process. Mr. Fawaz Khalid Al Marzouq actions are idiotic, irrational and outright shallow. He, like some shallow Americans is allowing his ego to overshadow his thought process.

Marina why would you attack Reema or Ms. Phillips when you stated: “everyone has a right to seek justice and [should] whether you agree or not.” Ms. Phillips fears for her safety and is fighting for justice “whether you agree or not.”

To Aaron:

Aaron: “in Kuwait teachers discipline students for the wrong reasons and in the states teachers have intimate relationship with students “sex” , its good that some dads still care in Kuwait and wont let students get punished for any reason”

Aaron I’ve had the opportunity to visit Kuwait too. It was a beautiful country and I would never judge the Kuwaiti society on Mr. Fawaz Khalid Al Marzouq’s idiotic actions. Such judgment would be ignorant, bias and foolish. Need I say more about your bias statement I have quoted from your comment above?

Aaron babe! You’re not American!!! And if you are PLEASE enroll back into an English class. You truly need help! 

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Lulu June 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Reema,

Thank you for posting the plight of this educator on your site and thank you for standing up to people like Aaron who are judging every day people based solely on their nationality. I will not judge Mr. Marzooq based on his Kuwaiti nationality, b/c as a teacher and middle level administrator in a Kuwaiti private biliingual school, the majority of my interactions with Kuwaiti students and parents have been extremely positive. I have learned from the warm attitudes of people throughout the Muslim world (Kuwaitis, Palestinians,Lebanese, Turks, Bahrainis, Jordanians, Egyptians, Moroccans, Omanis, Emiratees, etc.) that people on this side of the world (Arabia/N. Africa/Turkey) can much more easily separate a person from the country/government/culture into which that human was born, whereas many of my fellow Americans (mainly those who have not ever ventured abroad) still sadly think that almost all Muslims are terrorists.

Some people have white hearts, some people have dark hearts; some people are well educated and open minded, while other are subject to jumping to irrational conclusions. There are good and bad people in every country, every family, every community… Let this issue not be about nationality or religion or family names, but about facts and justice. The Kuwait Ministry of Education investigated this incident and did not find Katherine Phillips at fault. The fathers of two other boys involved in the fighting incident who were also suspended did not pursue measures against Ms. Phillips.

In my opinion, this incident is highly unusual and irrational and could happen in virtually ANY country in the world. I believe Ms. Phillips inadvertently offended Mr. Marzooq and this is why he chose to target her and not the school. I believe he had his right to an investigation when the Ministry of Education did it’s duty. I suppose he has the right to appeal, but I have a difficult time understanding how one day of an in-school suspension where a lunch was provided and the students were supervised and educated throughout the school day could harm a student to the extent it requires this extent of an investigation…

Would a shouting at or beating from the father been more appropriate or more effective? How do Kuwaiti parents discipline their children? DO Kuwaiti parents discipline their children???????!!! Would a Palestinian or Egyptian or Kuwaiti or Lebanese or Australian or French teacher be undergoing the same detention and imminent legal proceedings?

All questions aside, I support Ms. Phillips and the many other dedicated expatriate teachers from abroad and from the Arabian region who are sincerely dedicated to the mission of educating Kuwaiti youth. And I thank the majority of Kuwaiti students and parents who have been a delight to work with and learn from. Sadly, “Aaron” would not fall into this category.

Shukran jazeelan, Lulu

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Aaron July 1, 2007 at 8:59 pm

i was searching the net for anything that related Oprah Winfrey to Kuwait
and this is what i found http://www.metacafe.com/watch/343857/kuwait/
maybe you can one day be on the show to tell the world how much you hate your country and gov …. there is always good and evil in this world and i agree with Lulu Some people have white hearts, some people have dark hearts. and by the way it was the the Kuwait Ministry of justice that banned her from traveling which is normal procedure , just until the end of the trial, its the same as anywhere else in the world if she is proved Innocent she will leave if she is not whel that’s bad for her, but if she was the one who had the fault and you are saying this to mock the court rule and the gov of Kuwait then you don’t deserve to be a teacher Lulu and as for reema i think you don’t deserve to be a Kuwaiti, this blog is getting way too political by the time i finish writing this i will hand over this site to your Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Ministry Of Justice and Ministry Of Education.

p.s. Reema I’m sure your spoken out thoughts will help your dad in his domestic standoff, my friends tell me that he likes to visit the low makers once in a while.
hmm this is getting too much fun, now you have my attention i think im going to stick around and collect more data and see what happens 😉

and Lulu cute name 🙂 but your not my type 😛

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Reema July 1, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Aaron: Oh please hand over my site (shaking out of fear) i wanna see that happening. You’re definitely NOT an American maybe a wanna be and judging from your behavior i could tell you’re just a child and not even worth my time in responding to you, but thanks for the laughs it was fun.
p.s. don’t forget to “collect more data” about me LOL.

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Kuwaiteee July 3, 2007 at 6:32 am

Reem said ( feel more disgusted towards my country and people )
thnaks Reem for that Statements which reflect the way you were raised // I don’t now if you think that you live in heaven // and meets angles on earth where you live now ( outside Kuwait )
Weak up girl and smell the coffee // life is not perfect and mistakes happens everywhere //So your hated statement toward Kuwait and It’s people is over and doesn’t make sense unless you’re a sick person that need treatment as soon as possible // I can disagree with some issues that happened in Kuwait, But there is no way that my disagreement leads to disgusts Kuwait and its people Unless I become a sick person like you are // i truly feel sorry to find Kuwait’s with your mentalities // I came to your blog thinking that i would share or get some good ideas, but …. … and hope that you Prove me wrong.

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Reema July 3, 2007 at 8:04 am

To Kuwaiteee:
“thnaks Reem for that Statements which reflect the way you were raised”

You know i find personal insults rather amusing and always puts a smile into my face, but maybe you have a point i shouldn’t generalize i should have said “some” people/situations in Kuwait disgust me.

“I don’t now if you think that you live in heaven // and meets angles on earth where you live now ( outside Kuwait )

You’re right you don’t know, and i never said i lived in heaven.

“Weak up girl and smell the coffee”

It’s WAKE up not weak, I’d suggest you check your spelling b4 posting it helps the reader to know what you’re talking about 🙂

“life is not perfect and mistakes happens everywhere”
True (oh my god, we agreed on something!)

“So your hated statement toward Kuwait and It’s people is over and doesn’t make sense unless you’re a sick person that need treatment as soon as possible”

Again with the insults! it doesn’t really accomplish anything.

“I can disagree with some issues that happened in Kuwait, But there is no way that my disagreement leads to disgusts Kuwait and its people”

Now there’s a comment that i could actually respond to 😀 in today’s post.

“Unless I become a sick person like you are // i truly feel sorry to find Kuwait’s with your mentalities”

Do i really need to say something?

“I came to your blog thinking that i would share or get some good ideas, but …. … and hope that you Prove me wrong.”

I don’t have to prove anything to you or to anyone, whatever i write in my blog regarding Kuwait is public information mentioned in the Kuwaiti media, and i don’t think voicing my opinion is a crime.

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shayan October 14, 2007 at 7:50 pm

hi this is my first time on a blog page. i was shocked to learn about the incident. i totally sympathise with the educator. i think the father by doing what he did sent a very wrong message to his son. he thought he was harassing the educator but instead was harming his own son. i think she did’nt do anything wrong and to be harassed to such an extent that she actually feared for her life makes me sick with disgust. i think that people that are showing sympathy towards the country or religion are ignorant to the fact that someone is being threatened for her life. i personally think that there is no democracy in kuwait or the rest of the muslim world. given this fact, it’s the moral duty of any human being to stand up for this educator. regardless what her race, religion or nationality. good job reema. i’m very proud of people like you, who still have the right reasoning and consious.

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zuzu October 24, 2007 at 12:46 am

Well, this is a very interesting Debate. I can’t judge anyone from people like Aaron – Marina- – Shahara – Reema and to the two Main People of this Topic :- The Teacher and the Al Marzouq dude

In my opinion i think that there are right and wrong stuff from all you bloggers , im not Kuwaitee and i really dont know how Powerfully Kuwaitee nationals behave but i am from the Gulf so i can slightly understand this situation.

Firstly, Reema i do understand how you feel about Mr Al Marzouq’s behavior he didnt need to make this small matter such a big deal. If he was really pissed with how the teacher punished his son he should of conforted the teacher and finished it then and there. But to me its just not logical that a human being would actually make small issues so crtical just because of a stupid suspension. Im kinda considering what Aaron said that maybe this teacher was feeling all high and being American she could get away with anything, so Al Marzouq wanted to show her that in this country you are nothing. Reema u have to admit on how Americans behave and how they feel that they rule the world especially in the arab world. Well, i hope that this issue was resolved and i say el7amdullilah that i havent heard of such an incident in my country.

Reema i would like to say this to u in the most politest way, if you had anything agaisnt this issue it wasnt right to criticise the people of your country that way and most importantly your country. Be proud of who you are and where you come from, i think that all the people from the gulf are very lucky being from such countries which care for their people. Sending that email to Oprah was not a very smart act, your Kuwaitee! How do you think the world would react leave alone the people of your country knowing that a Kuwaitee girl took that action. The teacher would of finally gotten help, after all Americans are powerfull people as they believe and predict. But yet again one Kuwaitee man’s power was stronger then any American agency in the country.

“I can’t help but feel more disgusted towards my country and people wonder why i’m always angry when it comes to Kuwaiti politics and society!” That was a very harsh statement, to the bottom line you should be proud that you come from Kuwait and being Kuwaitee, i dont think there is any place in the world as good as the Arab world.

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Reema October 24, 2007 at 6:47 am

Shayan:Hi and welcome to my blog i appreciate your opinion on the matter and of course i completely agree with you there is no democracy in the Arab/Muslim world i keep hoping that one day this might all change.

Zuzu: Thank you for your comment and your opinion is highly respected, I have talked about this issue you mentioned before so i won’t repeat myself, you could read it here. I also did admit and apologized for generalizing in my post i guess i over reacted 😆

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zuzu October 25, 2007 at 3:01 am

Hii Reema,
Welcome back! And Mashallah, your babies are adorable. God bless them.

Your blog is very interesting, i enjoying reading it though im not a blogger i just came across blogs during a boring day at work 😀 .

I envy one thing about you, the fact that your married to a foreigner, living in Western world yet you havent forgotten your culture and most importantly Religion! Keep it up gal, ive never had anything agaisnt arab girls marrying Foreigners but i do stress about the fact that some tend to forget their religion.

Anyway hopefully, ill start blogging sometime, when? I dont know lol!!

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mohammad March 9, 2008 at 7:43 pm

I feel sorry for her BUT, she did something that is illegal, holding a child in school with out letting their parents know is wrong, even in the USA it is not allowed, and think about it, if a kuwaiti women did this in the US did this would they let her with out doing anything to her. She must learn that not just for being a school VP or not kuwaiti or western that she can do anything that she want, and everybody is showing the kuwaiti man as a Barbaric man, NO would you want your child to be held at a school for a day with out them letting you know, and plus that was a private school the father is paying for his child so they must treat him and his son with respect

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