Sunni Streeters

IMG_4612Have you ever heard of Streeters? or Voxpop? Man on the street comments? Well, they are a necessary, effective and often challenging part of telling a story for the news.

Challenging, because when telling a complex story and looking for a regular person to give their opinion of it, it takes time and understanding of the subject.  Then, add in the idea that the average person doesn’t like being on TV, they don’t want to “look stupid”, they don’t want to say what they really think.

Well, try looking for streeters in a foreign, non-English speaking country, and the degree of difficulty goes up exponentially.

I have gone looking for these comments in Brazil and in Russia but I have to say, Kuwait has been the toughest by far.

Today, I went searching for local reaction to Canadian Forces being here in Kuwait.  I also wanted to know if the average Kuwaiti thought their country should get involved in fighting ISIS.

We went to an open air market where we thought we could find the nice mix of young and old, rich and poor, men and women.  The last category is often the most important.  Men and women see things differently, more brawn vs. more heart.  But this category here in this conservative, Sharia Law governed country, talking to women is anything but easy.

I started off easy, attempting to speak with young men in regular street clothes, in my mind they seemed more moderate.  And for the most part, they were but when I mentioned ISIS, they wanted no part.  After a few, I started to get the feeling they just didn’t want to say they didn’t like ISIS.

Then I tried the family angle, men and women walking together.  Out of respect, I approached the man of the pair because the women were wearing burkas, so I assumed it would be more respectful.

It actually worked.  A few of the men, did their best to speak english to me and answer my questions, still somewhat evasively, the best they could.IMG_4694

After a few, I approached a couple, the man was wearing a Minnesota Twins t-shirt.  I tried to break the ice by asking him about his t-shirt.  He had no clue what I was saying.  His girlfriend/wife did understand me.  She said, “I speak english, what are you doing?”

The man, embarrassed that he didn’t know what was being said, and the fact that his partner was speaking with a Westerner started getting upset.

He immediately started raising his voice.  She at first blew him off, intrigued by our camera, she wanted to know what we were doing, where we were from and how she could help.

That angered him further.  Almost screaming in Arabic, she finally coyly stepped away, speaking in a lower voice to him.

Then to my horror, as they moved away, he pushed her.  They walked away with him yelling at her until they reached their car.  That was the end of this exercise.

I quickly got some clips from a few other men on my topic and we left.  I was frustrated, angry and disappointed by what I saw.

I wanted no part of getting anyone else in trouble or worse.


One thought on “Sunni Streeters

  1. So very difficult and incredibly sensitive in nature as you found out and your reaction guided you to the right decision.

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