Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Jalaluddin Rumi

 

Are you sure there are no more journalists in Yemen?

“Foreign journalists, don’t make us feel like you are doing us a favor by being here.”

“Instead of deporting militants, our national security deported a journalist. What a shame” wrote Yemeni journalist Hani Al-Guneid on Facebook.
Similar sentiments were widely expressed by activists and writers on May 9th, when journalist Adam Baron was wrongfully expelled from Yemen without an explanation. Until today, messages continue to spread condemning this attack on freedom of expression and some even felt obligated to apologize on behalf of their non elected government.The reactions to his deportation have highlighted a number of interesting points. It exemplified the reality that race/nationality/or passport matters in today’s media.Three days prior to Adam’s deportation, journalist Saeed Thabit Saeed sent a letter of complaint to the minister of interior, which he then published on Facebook. In it, he accused passport control, and later national security, of maintaining and using the same “black list” that Saleh’s government previously used against journalists and activists.

Saeed explained that he is often interrogated or detained at the airport upon arrival or departure from Sana’a. His passport was confiscated that day, and after some phone calls he was finally able to enter his own country.

Saeed is not the first journalist to complain of such harassment. A number of local journalists have been targets of intimidation tactics, violence, imprisonment and abuse. According to a March 2014 report by Reporters without Borders,

“Two years after Abd Rab Mansour Hadi became president, the situation of freedom of information in Yemen continues to be very worrying, especially as regards violence against media personnel.”

While it is very important that Adam’s deportation made headline news, it is as important to speak out against the numerous attacks on local citizens.

The last two years witnessed numerous violations including:

1. the murder of two young innocent boys,

2. a military attack on a funeral service of members of the Southern Movement in a public school courtyard killing 15 people,

3. a one-year jail sentence and fine of 100,000 Yemeni Riyals imposed on journalist Majed Karout, and

4. continuation of patronage through the $11.3 million allocated to the Tribes’ Affairs Authority in the 2014 budget despite the rising poverty.

None of these events made the international community question the practices of the current government. Why does it take a western journalists’ unfortunate deportation to make others see that “there might be something undemocratic” about this internationally supported government?

The second observation regarding Adam’s deportation is that while journalists have thankfully continued to unite in support of their colleagues, some have unfortunately used it as an opportunity to market themselves.

After announcing Adam’s deportation on twitter, a journalist was quick to immediately mention that there’s now “only one foreign journalist” officially in Yemen. Her tweet, taken out of context, implied to many that she was the only one left to report in the land of chaos.

I’m not a stranger to the hardships of freelancing, as my husband was one for quite sometime, yet this is no excuse to use this inappropriate time to market oneself. In fact, if anyone had the right to over-hype the issue it was Adam, but he did not.

I will not go into the semantics of what defines “official” in the dictionary, and what defines “official” in Yemen. Yet, I will say that the documents needed for western journalists to operate in Yemen are the following:

WHO KNOWS? Journalists have come to Yemen in a number of different ways. Yes, technically it could help if you have a journalism visa, but most of the time it is irrelevant. In fact, Adam Baron was deported even though he was “officially” working in Yemen.

Today, there are other journalists “officially” working or have worked in Yemen with very different residency papers/work permits. Some have a press card from the ministry of informaiton without a journalist visa, some are on a journalist visa, and others with neither.

Even the ones here without a press card work with the full knowledge of the Yemeni government, and in fact, many were officially registered as journalists during the 10-month National Dialogue Conference.

In addition, they continue to be invited by government officials to attend “official” events. Even the journalists without proper documents have traveled all over the country, met and continue to meet with high level officials, and publish their work under their name.

This is obviously not an ideal way to operate, as the government could easily deport them using the excuse that they do not have a valid visa, which the government did in 2011 when it deported four western journalists.

Then again, the government can deport anyone with no excuse such as the case of Adam. For this reason and many others, members of civil society and journalists continue to demand media reform in Yemen.

A third reflection is that it was curious how stressing “foreign” journalist based in Yemen was very important to distinguish one’s self from “local” as if it is necessarily correlated to credibility.

Yes, there is category of media professionals known as foreign correspondents, but majority of Western reporters in Yemen are not staff reporters. They are freelancers and work exactly like the local freelancers.

And there are Western journalists with Yemeni origins who are often not included in either the “foreign” or “local” journalist categories.

Foreign analysts and journalists should continue to travel and write about different countries including Yemen, as it can help provide a fresh perspective on things. Yet, their analysis should not be taken as the only credible voice in a country of 24 million people!

It is not the nationality that makes a journalist, but rather knowledge of the country, language skills, objectivity and professionalism. Whether the person is a foreign or local journalist should not be the basis for judging whether someone is a credible source.

It is important to remember the following:

1. there are Yemeni journalists who report to international media, and

2. Yemenis, like any other people, can also be credible, can also be objective, and can also relay the truth.

Why are local journalists in the west credible enough to report their own news, while it is not the case in Yemen?

Finally, while it’s admirable that some journalists leave the luxuries of their homes to work in less comfortable societies, it is important to remember that this is entirely their choice, and they do get something in return.

What you may wonder?

Well, where else could a new freelancer meet the highest government officials only two weeks after their arrival? This of course helps boost their careers in addition to their reputation. Once someone lives in “dangerous” Yemen, he/she is automatically given the “brave” award.

So my dear journalist friends, with all due respect, I admire your passion and your hard work, but please don’t make us feel like you are doing us a favor by being here. Please give us the respect and spare us the brave altruistic hero persona. It is not a favor you are bestowing on us to be living here.

I realize some of my journalist friends might be upset with this post, but I am sure that those who know me well enough will know that my intention is merely to give another side to the hype of last week.

While the government may not be friendly towards journalists, Yemeni people are. In fact, in almost every travel article, book or website, the one constant characteristic about Yemen is the description about the hospitable and friendly people of the country.

Let us work together to show the world what Yemen is really about.

Women need solidarity: Save your “to be saved” in your heart

“You were born with wings, why are you crawling through life?” Jalaluddin Rumi

Women in Yemen and in States that are repressing the rights of women demand your solidarity: They don’t care to be saved. They are the ones saving whatever remains in dignity in these obscurantist states. Arab women do not need “saving”, just your consistent solidarity.

I stumbled on a link womanfromyemen.blogspost.com, and this is one of the posts:

“In Cairo last week, an Egyptian organization held a conference entitled “Women Empowerment“. The conference was tackling a variety of topics including corruption, trafficking, gender based violence, gender wage gaps, and sexual violence.
The case studies and speakers focused mostly on Western countries and the problems women face there, highlighting Christianity as the impediment to gender equality.
The surprising aspect of this conference is that none of the similar violations in the Middle East or Muslim countries were discussed. This shocked one of the attendees who said that these issues are not strictly “Western” and they are found all over the globe.
Indeed violation of women rights are a global problem.
I ask you to look at the previous paragraph and substitute the word “Egyptian” with “International“, the word “Western” with “Arab or Muslim” and “Christianity” with “Islam“.
Would you still be shocked by such a conference? Majority of people would not, because that kind of tone has become the norm today. [The first conference I mention above in Cairo did not really take place, I was just flipping the situation around to make a point].
Since the start of the Yemeni uprising, many activists have been invited to a number of conferences to discuss the revolution, women’s rights or the Arab spring. Many have taken this as an opportunity to focus on issues often neglected in main stream media, and to correct some of the misunderstandings.
But lately, a few international conferences on women’s rights made these female activists feel really uncomfortable during the discussions, as the focus was on “saving” women in Arab or Muslim majority countries, as if they are the only women suffering from gender inequality.

activists are not denying that there are a number of obstacles facing women in many of the Arab countries, and I have myself written extensively on this, but that does not mean that women in democratic nations do not have to struggle as well, and it also does not mean that there are no positives in our culture.

The way women’s situation is sometimes discussed today is reminiscent of colonial rhetoric about “saving” women from oppression and the need to “educate” these women (with the superiority it implies).

While in the past it was based on religious superiority, today it’s from a secular perspective but with similar undertones.

In many international conferences, photographs of Muslim women are often the icon for oppression and the focus is on religious interpretations and cultural traditions only, failing at taking a look into the history of oppressive regimes that have long neglected gender equality.

Too often, conferences only highlight cultural and religious reasons for women’s oppression and forget to also indulge in discussion on history and political developments. As Professor Lila Abu-Lughod wrote:

the question is why knowing about the “culture” of the region, and particularly its religious beliefs and treatment of women, was more urgent than exploring the history of the development of repressive regimes in the region.”

This unfortunately turns the discussion into a polarized East v. West, rather than a worldwide struggle for women. I am not someone who believes in the dichotomy between “East” and “West” because I believe in the human spirit, in the fact that we all share common beliefs, goals and aspirations clothed in different cultural traditions, but the essence remains the same.

I do not like when things are reduced to such measures, and I find it to be counterproductive as many people respond with reactionary views simply to hide their wounded pride.

When conducting such events, organizers should pay attention to the tone of the discussion and it is imperative for women leaders around the world to emphasize Solidarity – as many international groups already do –  through partnerships and exchange of ideas, of stories of struggles and lessons learned from all over the globe.

Note 1: No women representation? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/no-women-representation-the-arab-league-represents-half-the-arabs-who-is-hoda-sultan-sha3rawi/

Note 2: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/women-can-shatter-your-autistic-sexual-perception-of-love/

photo taken from (http://www.ruthinstitute.org/uploaded_images/women-of-the-world-unite!-742297.jpg)Note:Check womanfromyemen.blogspost.com

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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