Abdulhabeeb Salem: Do We Still Remember Him? [Archives:1999/43/Focus]

October 25 1999

By: Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi,
Managing Editor, Yemen Times
I do not know why death always choose only the best and loftiest people in our society. Bad people only live long in this society. Yemen has lost in this decade a galaxy of its luminaries and pioneers in different facets of life. We lost Al-Rabadi, Omar Al-Jawi, Abdulhabeeb Salem, Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, Abdullah Saad, Abdullah Al-Baradouni and many others. These celebrated and right-minded journalists and intellectuals have done a lot for the well-being of their country and their people.
Let me here try to profile the personality of Mr. Abdulhabeeb Salem Moqbil since the 22nd of October met the 4th anniversary of his untimely and unfortunate death.
Mr. Salem started his journalistic career at Saba News Agency. Then, he moved to Al-Guhuryah, an official newspaper based in Taiz. Before the Yemeni unification in 1990, Salem was famous of his in-depth, investigative and interesting stories published in Al-Gumhuryah. After the unification his popularity was highly broadened through his famous column published in Sawt Al-Omal newspaper. People used to wait for their copy of Sawt Al-Omal with tenterhooks, mainly in order to read Salem’s column titled” Democracy: A Sour Word”.
Salem was one of the most courageous journalists. He fought bravely for the truth and had a strong bias in favor of the under-privileged and disadvantageous in the society. In 1993, he run for the parliament. As a noble and an honest person, Salem felt that his position as a member of the House of the Representatives entails a hard work so as to represent his people and voice their interests properly. Therefore, he was restless, doing his best to translate his people’s dreams into reality.
He was always at odds with the crooked and corrupt fabric in the society. Not only that. They rather did him down and painted him with bad names. He was even accused as an agent of Israel and President Saleh. Furthermore, he was subject a barrage of harassments. Some even called him a mischievous person in the parliament for his questioning and bias in favor of his voters in particular and the Yemeni people in general. Being an MP, Salem did not give up and rest. Rather, he exploited his journalistic know-how and skills in order to voice the interests and aspirations of the people either in the parliament or in newspapers through his constructively critical articles. Moreover, he loudly called for social equity and adherence to law and order. He was also a snake in the grass to sectarianism and regionalism. However, he was accused of adopting such values. In fact, his confrontation with the corrupts at the power center was not equal. Therefore, when finding himself unable to serve his nation as a member of the parliament, he refused to remain a mere hypocrite, unable to represent his people honestly. So, he decided to quit; he resigned from the parliament on March 28th 1995. He was the first to resign in the history of the Yemeni parliament.
Mr. Salem, may his soul rest in peace in paradise, left us a good example of a man who never gives up calling for the truth and even sacrificing for it. He truly and genuinely deserved the title” Martyr of Free Word”, for he devoted his life for the freedom of expression. He even tolerated all kinds of harassments for his courage and openness in calling for the truth, the most reverent and noblest mission of journalism.
Now, I wonder if the Yemeni people and government still remember the man. Will the Yemeni society continue giving its back to and ignoring these who once voiced its dreams and aspirations? The man, Salem, is dead but his noble mission and legacy still lives on. We should remember him through his works and pay him a homage through his family. Will the people in charge honor the man and give his kids and wife their due care and attention? Will the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate do him a homage and honor him in the way it thinks suitable to his memory and worthy contribution to the good and welfare of the Yemeni journalistic movement and the whole society at large? Will the Yemeni society give him his due right even if posthumously? Will the Yemeni society remember those who devoted their lives for its well-being?! I wonder!