Friday, February 18, 2011

Qat Got Their Tongues

by Ali Al-Muqri
The New York Times
February 17, 2011

Yemeni Novelist Ali Al-Muqri
IT occurs to me as I listen to the shouts of the young protesters in the streets here that they could use most of the chants of the Egyptian protesters verbatim — save for the ones about Suzanne Mubarak, the former first lady of Egypt. This is because the mere mention of any of the four wives of our president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, would be a shameful violation of a tribal taboo.

The state-controlled news media continue to assert that Yemen is neither Tunisia nor Egypt. But the president and his minions have been watching their backs since the success of the Egyptian revolution, as most of the revolutionary movements in Yemen have been influenced by earlier Egyptian events. The 1952 revolution in Egypt belatedly inspired the 1962 revolution in Yemen, which split our nation in half for nearly three decades. There is even a celebrated Tahrir, or Liberation, Square here in Sana, just as in Cairo.

It is not only the authorities who are nervous: most Yemenis are hoping to wake up one day and discover that the revolution has arisen earlier than they have; just like that, painlessly, with no losses. As much as they long to follow the path of Tunisia and Egypt, they are worried about the repercussions such a revolt might have, including a civil war should certain tribes align themselves with President Saleh.

Read the rest here.

For more see Al Jazeera's "Yemen Clerics Urge Unity Government" (February 18, 2011).

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