Monday, April 18, 2011

Women rise up in Yemen

You'd think that in this day and age world leaders would know better than to suggest that taking part in politics is somehow unladylike.
You'd think that to be true even in the Middle East during this year of People Power across the Arab world.
Yet there they went again. On Friday, the Yemeni President President Ali Abdullah Saleh chided activists not only for not acting like women, but also for betraying their religion. CNN reported:
In a short speech given to his supporters on Friday, Saleh said women who were protesting against his regime were violating Yemeni cultural norms that prohibit women mixing with men who are not direct relatives. He called it forbidden behavior in Islam and advised women to stay home.

Like other such reprimands in other countries these last few months, Saleh's words did not have the desired effect.
As is evident in the Al Jazeera video below, this weekend Yemeni women redoubled their efforts to militate in favor of reform in their country. (credit for (c) dapd photo) They marched not only in the capital of Sanaa, but in nearly a dozen other places, in order, according to CNN, to "sho[w] how angry they were at Saleh for what they saw as an insult to their dignity." (Late on Sunday, Saleh's forces opened fire on marchers.)
Saleh's supporters sought to reinterpret his comments. Saleh's opponents -- men and women alike -- pointed to a past when women led the country, and lauded women's frontline presence today.
CNN quoted Salma Sabra, identified as an Aden-based human rights activist:
'Even conservative women will join the protests now, to prove to anyone who doubts that women will take part in Yemen's future rule.'

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