Dienstag, 24. Januar 2012

Combating sexual harrassment and gender discrimination in Yemen

photo by Yemen Times

These days, great initiatives spring up everywhere as young people, emboldened and politicized by the Yemeni "revolution", decide to become active on issues they consider detrimental for society. Below is a report by the Yemen Times on one of these initatives:

Fighting for Yemen's morals
Yemen Times, January 23, 2012
by Marwa Najmaldin

In a hall in Sana’a, on International Volunteers Day last month, a whiteboard was hung with words often used by men to harass girls. A room full of young boys were told to throw arrows at the board and when full, the words were pulled back to reveal a picture of a girl. On the picture, pocked with arrow marks, was written the words, “I am your mother, I am your sister, I am your wife, I am your daughter.”

“We started this campaign because we feel that this problem [of harassment] is getting worse and the results will be harmful to individuals and to our conservative society,” said co-founder, Amani Abd Al-Qader, 21, a student at the University of Sana’a.

Under the slogan “Are there any morals anymore?” Al-Qader, explained the campaign was against any form of harassment – whether directed at women or men.

Read the rest of the article and view further pictures of the campaign here.

Mittwoch, 18. Januar 2012

On Sana'a

view on the Old City of Sanaa (©M. Heinze)

Tim Mackintosh-Smith is a British author turned Yemeni, who regularly writes on the country. His book "Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land" is one of my favorite non-academic books on Yemen and won the 1998 Thomas Cook / Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award. Below is a recent publication of his on Yemen's capital city Sana'a, where he has been living these past thirty years.

The City: Sana
The Daily Beast, January 16, 2012
by Tim Mackintosh-Smith

What do Kazan, Caracas, Sadr City, Marrakech, Mumbai, Berlin, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, and Frankfurt have in common? Answer: they have all recently shared the epithet “city of contrast.” I confess I didn’t look at any more of the 285 million hits for the phrase on my search engine…You get the idea. You will search the globe in vain, it seems, for a city of boring homogeneity.

It must be said, though, that the city I’ve lived in for most of the past 30 years, Sana, the Yemeni capital, gives new life to that clapped-out cliché. For a start, the contrast with the rest of the Arabian Peninsula could hardly be greater. The other day, for instance, the placemat for my lunchtime saltah, a nourishing beef and fenugreek hotpot eaten in a hole in the wall in the souk, was the usual sheet of newsprint, this one from a Gulf daily. It showed a row of multimillion-dollar yachts in a marina in Abu Dhabi—a short flight away, but which for most Yemenis might as well be on one of Jupiter’s moons. Conversely, my tower house here—and any one of the thousands of historic buildings in the ancient heart of Sana—would be classed as a national monument in the Emirates.
But it is the contrasts within Sana that are stranger. They were already ancient when the 10th-century geographer al-Hamdani noted the paradoxical character of the city. In fact, they are innate: because Sana was founded during a conjunction of Venus and Mars, al-Hamdani explained, the contrary characteristics of the two planets coexist in its people—good manners and love of la dolce vita contend with a fondness for unseemly jokes and quarrels and for messing about with knives. More than a millennium later, Yemen’s greatest modern poet, Abdallah al-Baradduni, portrayed the city in chiaroscuro as “a pretty woman wooed by consumption and mange.”

Read the rest of the article and look at Karim Ben Khelifa's beautiful photograph here.

Donnerstag, 12. Januar 2012

One day without qat

Today, the Yemeni youth demonstrates once again its faithfulness to the goals of the Yemeni revolution, which go much further than "simply" getting Salih to leave office. Much rather - and as the currently ongoing "parallel revolution" demonstrates - Yemeni (educated) youth aim to change society as a whole. For today they have called upon fellow Yemenis to participate in a Day Without Qat, thus drawing attention to once of the most prominent and in many ways detrimental practices of Yemenis, male and female alike.

To inform yourself about the pro and contra debate in regard to qat, I recommend you read Daniel Varisco's paper on "The elixir of life or the devil's cud? The debate over Qat (Catha edulis) in Yemeni culture" or, if you have time enough for a book, Shelagh Weir's seminal study on "Qat in Yemen: Consumption and social change".

To inform yourself on the ongoing campaign and its possiblities of success, click here.

Dienstag, 10. Januar 2012

New opportunity for researchers on Yemen (updated)

me with my friends from YPC in Sanaa

The Yemen Polling Center (YPC), an independent research and training institute in Sanaa, offers internships to foreign researchers, graduate and postgraduate students residing in Yemen for research purposes or those studying Arabic Language courses.

YPC also hosts a small number of Visiting Fellows every year as part of its Fellowship Program. YPC assists in securing sources, resources and research materials. YPC also offers opportunities for the fellow to participate in different events in Yemen and to interact with our diverse national staff and establish contacts with officials and other Yemeni stakeholders. Visiting Fellows receive a small stipend.

Applications are open to all; there are no preconditions for submitting an application and all foreign students and researchers are invited to apply. However, researchers with the following backgrounds are favored: political sciences, social sciences, mass communication, media, law and economic studies.

YPC interns and Fellows are expected to assist headquarter staff and field representatives in carrying out their duties, realizing the center's mission and helping implement its different projects.

The duration of the internship or Fellowship shall be for a minimum of 10 weeks with a 12-hour workweek. Applicants are encouraged to seek funding and/or academic credit through their affiliated university or college.

YPC will host no more than two interns and/or Fellows at one time

Read more on this opportunity on the website of the Yemen Polling Center.

Update: Researchers and academics working on Yemen can know exchange and discuss in the Facebookgroup 'Yemen Researchers Forum'.

Montag, 9. Januar 2012

Vortrag zur "Revolution" im Jemen am Mittwoch

photography by Abdulrahman H. Jaber

Diesen Mittwoch um 19:00 Uhr halte ich in Leipzig einen Vortrag zur "Arabischen Frühling" im Jemen mit dem Titel

"Wem gehört die jemenitische 'Revolution'? Akteure, Strategien und Rahmenbedingungen des politischen Umbruchs im Jemen"

Mehr Informationen zu Vortrag, Organisator und Veranstaltungsort gibt es hier.

Samstag, 7. Januar 2012

Yemen's artistic creativity

photography by Abdulrahman H. Jaber

The "revolution" in Yemen has not only created a new sense of political awareness among Yemeni citizens, it has also sparked, enhanced, yes: unleashed Yemeni creativity. From the Marches of Life and Dignity, art exhibitions, poetry, music, photography, and film-making, etc. Yemenis have explored multiple ways of expressing their beliefs and feelings as related to the ongoing upheavals and to draw the international community's attention to their struggle. Below is the most recent example, a high-quality film created by an initiative of Yemeni Americans called Support Yemen, which you can also watch on YouTube:

Freitag, 6. Januar 2012

A new, "parallel revolution" in Yemen

photography by Abdulrahman H. Jaber

Yemen rises up against its mini-dictators
The Guardian, January 5, 2012
by Abubakr al-Shamahi

In the current state of confusion in Yemen, with the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and his family attempting to retain control behind the scenes even though he is officially due to leave office in February, Yemeni protesters have a new tactic.

A "parallel revolution" of anti-corruption protests and strikes is seeking to remove the mini-dictators – Saleh's lieutenants who are in charge of the various state institutions and the bloated state bureaucracy.

Ten months after the start of anti-government protests, and with the country's future steeped in uncertainty, Yemenis are determined to ensure that real change is the fruit of their sacrifices.
A dictator's power comes from having the ability to surround himself with a loyal group of henchmen, the faithful minions who will ensure that power remains in the hands of the leader. Without such followers it is impossible to rule dictatorially.

Over his 33 years at the helm, Saleh has managed to build an effective network of partisans, people who aid him in controlling the various branches of the state, and yet also know that they are only in their position because of their loyalty to Saleh.

In turn, Saleh allows these men to get rich and to run their institutions as personal fiefdoms. These corrupt officials have siphoned off millions, most likely billions, in a country that is ranked as the poorest in the Arab world. This nouveau riche group are busy building villas and mansions on the edge of Sana'a, Yemen's capital. In the meantime, the city is running out of water because of mismanagement and poor infrastructure.

Weak state institutions mean that officials can get away with many illegitimate practices. Contracts are given out to friends and family, or simply the person willing to grease officials' hands with the most money. Yemen's oil and natural resources industry – its main (but dwindling) source of income – is notoriously corrupt, with oil revenues under-reported and educational scholarships from oil money going to the children of high officials.

The Yemeni mini-dictators abuse their power in other ways. There have been reports of military officers running "personal prisons" and taking money from officers' salaries.

One protester at a government office in the city of Taiz said his boss had put a gun to his head only the week before. The boss, at first confused, and then angry, was barred from entering the building by the protester and his colleagues.

Read the rest of the article here.

Brian Whitaker has also commented on this new development in his blog al-Bab.

And the Yemen Times offers a very nice map with some examples of this new form of revolutionary clean-sweeping.