I often ask myself if there is anything, dear cyber-comrades, that cannot be done on the Internet these days.
We can buy, sell, marry, divorce, work, love and even… sue. Case in point: the Kuwait-based Lebanese blogger being sued for $18,000 by the owner of the Benihana Japanese-style restaurant in Kuwait for posting a negative review of his dinner.
Now That’s What I Call Feedback
Mark Makhoul, a Lebanese living in Kuwait who runs the popular blog www.248am.com told The National that restaurant is suing him “They’re asking for financial compensation, and asking for my blog to be shut down,” he said.
Our digital diner visited the restaurant in Kuwait’s Avenues Mall in December and proceeded to post a review that gave the service and friendly staff the thumbs up. Mark’s appraisal of his meal, was less complementary and he ended his blog by putting his two dinars’ worth in a less than appetizing nutshell: “Would I go back to Benihana? No, I wouldn’t.”
“There are two other Japanese restaurants at the Avenues: Wasabi and Maki, and I would prefer either one of those to Benihana.” The bold blogger also uploaded a pair of videos of the chef juggling utensils, while he cooks – something of a Benihana trademark.
Dinar for One
Seems Behihana’s GM, Mike Servo found the review hard to swallow, and posted a comment to it claiming that the restaurant’s name has been “destroyed and abused” by the blog. Mr Servo added that the blog’s suggestion that customers go elsewhere is something he believes to be against the law of Kuwait”.
Kuwait’s criminal investigation department has been informed of the case and a copy of the court order that was downloaded from Mr Makhoul’s blog states that said the blogger, who works for an advertising agency, had “hidden intents”.
“They think it’s a conspiracy. It’s a very far-fetched argument. I don’t think they have a case,” Mr Makhoul told The National.
More than a Mouthful
Benihana owner Abdul Rahman al Mutairi is playing his cards close to his chest on the issue. He stated that Kuwaiti law requires both parties to refrain from speaking about the case until a verdict is reached.
Hundreds of Internauts from across Kuwait and the Arab region have sent messages of support and friendship to Mr Makhoul on Twitter and Facebook.
The blogger’s trial began on March 8 and the brave blogger sees his case as a precedent, stating: “If they want to go ahead, I’m not going to chicken out. It doesn’t just affect me; that’s why I want everyone to get involved. If I lose this case it could affect all the bloggers in Kuwait.”
He hopes the pressure from friends near and far from across the cyberverse will force the Benihana Corporation to demand the Kuwaiti franchise owners to clean their plates of the case.