Ahmad Al-Baghdadi was the chair of the political science department and an expert on Islamic law and history at the University of Kuwait. In the past several years, he has become a controversial author and lecturer and has been personally named a heretic by Osama bin Laden.
In 1996, he published an article in a student’s newspaper, al-Sho`ula, called "An Opportunity to Solve the Oppression of Backwardness." Several members of the conservative Islamic movement were outraged by the article and in October of 1999, the Misdemeanor Appeals Court sentenced Al-Baghdadi to one month of imprisonment.
He was sentenced for publicizing his viewpoints that "contained an extreme insult to and great defamation of the Prophet of God," a violation of article 111 of the Penal Code in Kuwait. However, Al-Baghdadi was released after the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, pardoned him. Unfortunately in 2004, he once again became the center of controversy as he voiced his opinions. That year, the Kuwaiti Education Ministry had ordered an increase in Islamic studies and to allot time for Tajweed or rote learning (memorizing) of the Koran in all private schools.
One ministry official even recommended on removing music classes to allow more time for Islamic studies. Al-Baghdadi responded to the latest policy in an article, saying: “I am a parent of a child who attends an English school… I don't want my son to be taught by ignoramuses not to respect women and non-Muslims. I don't want those in charge of determining the non-educational curricula – who are backwards both cognitively and intellectually – to fill my son's head with traditions about demons… I do not want his future to be the path of intellectual or actual terrorism.
Shortly after the article was published, three Islamists sued Al-Baghdadi for the article. In 2005, he was charged with contempt for Islam but was acquitted by the lower court. However, the ruling was overturned by the appeals court in 2005 and Al-Baghdadi was sentenced to three years on probation of 2,000 dinars ($6800) bail, with any violation punishable by a one-year prison sentence.
Not long after being sentenced, he requested political asylum from the West that was published in Al-Siyasa, saying “this is not out of hatred for my country, but rather out of hatred for its tyrannical laws, which do not hesitate to imprison anyone who expresses his opinion [even] if it has nothing to do with religion.”After about a week the request was made, he proclaimed that he would end his writing career in Kuwait, stating “I have no weapon other than my pen, which the law has shattered, so I am left with no alternative but to surrender...” Since then, he has kept true to his word and has not written anything in Kuwait.