Al-Nass Editor-in-Chief Hameed Ahmad Shahra: “A Professional Journalist is One Who Creates.” “Sana’a is the Capital of Sinks” [Archives:2001/38/Interview]

September 17 2001

Al-Nass Editor-in-Chief Hameed Ahmad Shahra could create a distinguished picture to his weekly newspaper in a short period of time. This intellectual personality could cope with the current situation in Yemen successfully with his newspaper. A book titled Smile Demise (Masra Al-Ebtisama) was issued in which the writer deals with the Brothers Islamic Movement in 1948. Bassam Al-Saqqaf of YT has met with him and filed the following interview.
Q: How do you evaluate the future of journalism? What does it lack, particularly here in Yemen?
A: I think with the increase of the number of the publications whether regular or periodical, it seems for the viewer that there is an improvement. But as a matter of fact, journalism is still lacking the human and material potentials. This can be clearly seen through the reality of Yemeni journalism. We see with our own eyes only one editor for more than one newspaper. If the individual does his best for for the benefit of his party, it is sure that it will be an abortive one. The journalism in Yemen is poor; up to this moment we don’t have any press establishments and institutions which can participate in the trade work as an investment in the field of media. The matter is likened to the so-called circulars in which the content and style is very poor.
Q: Al-Nass Weekly newspaper could achieve wide popularity in a short period of time. What makes it different from other newspapers?
A: I think this can be explained from two angles. The first one is that the magazine is not restricted in itself; it deals widely with all opinions and in each page you can find contrary opinions. The second aspect is that its main concern is on social aspects. Political issues and topics are lacking in our newspaper. The main feature of our magazine is the simplicity, whether in publications, in writing, or in its commentary. We as journalists, we make use of others’ experiences in the field of journalism. In this short period, we could achieve what we have dreamed of. Now the newspaper is progressing by leaps and bounds.
Q: You have stood alone in issuing a special supplement concerning the Palestinian issue. Have you published that supplement to pursue the current situation in the occupied land, or is it going to be continued?
A: We will go on to issue that supplement concerning the current situation in the occupied land. The issue itself represents all Arabs and Muslims.
Q: Do you intend to publish other supplements in other creative areas such as sports or culture?
A: We intend only to issue a sport and news supplement entitled Al-Nass in order to pursue the current situations in the governates and the remote villages. Actually, we don’t intend to publish any cultural supplements.
Q: How do you assess the role of women in the Yemeni media? Do women play a leading role in the media, or do men themselves control the media?
A: It is neither controlled by men nor by women. It can not be classified as such. There are no imposed barriers which stand against women; the barriers can be found within the woman herself. Culture, environment, and backwardness reflects negatively on both men and women. For the most part, I think man’s ambition is limitless, whereas woman, for a number of reasons, such as ignorance, is isolated from this aspect.
Q: There is rumor that Al-Nass newspaper is confederated with Al-Sahwa newspaper. What are your comments?
A: Let them say whatever they want. It seems to me that the last page of our newspaper makes them say so. But if we closely analyze both of the newspapers we will see a big difference. For example the Islah, the Congress, and the opposition’s positions have little coverage on our pages. If you look closely to other newspapers you will see that all these newspapers front-paged the Islah’s issues. It is the only party in the political arena, and the political battle now is between Islah and the PGC. The problem is that their point of view lies with the Editor-in-Chief who a member in the Islah Party. That is why they say that Al-Nass is a confederate of the Al-Sahwa newspaper. But I confirm again through careful reading of the Al-Nass newspaper, it will be noted here that the newspaper has different concerns and issues from that of the Al-Sahwa newspaper.
Q: In your own point of view, what are the qualities of a professional journalist?
A: To me, he is the man who creates and who is faithful in his work.
Q; Al-Nowafeth Magazine (Windows Magazine) could also achieve a dramatic shift in the field of journalism, but we see that it has been stopped. Why has it stopped since its publication in 1997?
A: As it is known to all that the newspaper has encountered financial crises because its costs exceed its revenue.
Q: In your book “the Smile Demise” you have related the Brothers Islamic Movement to the 1948 Movement. How did you come to such idea?
A: When I joined the Movement in 1989, I was reading the history of the National Yemeni Movement. Through my reading, I closely followed the history of the movement and looked for more details related to the movement, so that I could collect a number of references and documents concerning this subject. I was supported by Nasr Taha and Mohammed Zabara. They encouraged me to publish the book under the supervision of the Strategic Studies Center. The book mainly focuses on the role of the Brothers Islamists in the National Movement ( 1938 – 1948) and their role in 1948 coup d’état. This book is a reference to researchers and students.
Q: You have mentioned in your articles in the newspaper saying that the inexperienced young people in the government will bring about failure as that of the former government. Is that true?
A: First of all, there aren’t any young ministers, and if they are young, they are spiritually old. At last there is a culture in which they live under the same roof. In this country there is no difference between young or old ministers.
Q: What about cudgels which have been imported recently?
A: To put down the riot.
Q: What is your opinion concerning the legal case filed by Al-Qasemi against Al-Nass and Sadek Nasher?
A: I think the case is absurd and doesn’t deserve any attention at all. It is supposed to Al-Kasemi being brought up for trial for his stealing qat and plagiarizing publications.
Q:Do you think that Yemen will be the cultural capital for the year 2004?
A: I think it will not be because it is unqualified. I agree with Al-rasehi that it will be the capital of sinks
Q: The journalists’ infringements in Yemen have the same idea of standing against journalists of the government and the opposition parties. Do you agree with me?
A: The Yemeni’s tyranny and despoticism can be found within the Yemeni mentality, both within the rulers and the ruled. All Yemenis have the same mentality starting from the headmasters passing through the Secretary General of any given party. They practice the same style practiced by the government.
Q: What is your vision for the future of Yemen in 25 years?
A: Generally speaking, I think that my son will be the editor-in-chief, and he will be an army officer.