Death of Yemeni press smile [Archives:2006/997/Opinion]

November 9 2006

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh
Yemen has lost in a tragic road accident one of the most brilliant, commitment and respectable journalist who is much adherent to ethics of the profession of difficulties. The press of Yemen lost Hamid Shahrah the editor in chief of Annas weekly newspaper. Hamid Shahrah, who passed away in the prime of his youth, was not only among the brilliant journalists in Yemen but one of the promising writers interested in telling the history of the Yemeni national movement with a great amount of sincerity and sense of responsibility. His first book “Death of the Smile” was about the 1948 constitutional revolution and, despite all remarks about it, is one of the most mature reviews of the thought of pioneering revolutionary forerunners. It's a distinguished effort encouraging discussion of some of the issues that are not mentioned in the history of this movement that led to change.

After the publication of his book Hamid came to me very humbly carrying a copy of his book dedicated to me in beautiful slender handwriting, similar to its writer and reflecting his noble feeling. He asked me, at that first meeting, to read his book and write my remarks on it and to frankly tell him all that I personally deem contrary to what he had written. When he called me a few days later he asked me if I had read his book and whether I had made my remarks. I had read the book and had many notes, some of them in his favor and others against him. I asked him to meet me again so I could to tell him about my remarks verbally in the hope he may benefit from them in case he thought of re-printing the book. Unfortunately he did not appear to see me maybe because of his preoccupation in his press work and hard work in the production of the distinguished Annas newspaper, in addition to his news online website 'naspress.'

One of the important remarks I had pinpointed was that the book, which focused on connection of the free men with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, should mention, in detail, the attempts of the bygone regime to contact the Brotherhood and convince them it was the only an Islamic regime in the Arab homeland and was following their principles and that is why they had provided that regime with advisors and teachers. If the freemen did not succeed to drive a wedge between the regime and Sheikh Hassan Al-Banna and his followers, the Muslim Brotherhood would adopt the stand of the regime and hastened to defend it. The letter of Imam Yahya to Hassan Al-Banna, included in the book, is one of the important documents written to prove that cooperation.

After a short period Hamid visited me to tell me good news on his achievement of press effort and his intention to write an in-depth historical study on the stages following 1948. He told me he needed many more references. At that time I realized he is one of the few researchers who would not write until he collected authenticated documents. Later we had another meeting in the house of the outstanding nationalist Qadi Abdulsallam Sabrah. There and then we had a long talk about his book “Death of the Smile” and the necessity of publishing a new issue including some remarks that would consolidate the importance of the book as one of the important references on a period of contemporary Yemen needing much accuracy and more fairness.

Yemen has really lost. The late Hamid Shahrah wan a professional journalist and a writer entertaining a high degree of morals and a connection with values. There are many writers and journalists in the Arab homeland, but only a few who prove to be serious and sincere. Shahrah proved in practice and action that he is a man of principles and that has been clearly seen in his newspaper Annas, which he established and managed efficiently and with keenness to gather in its editorial staff writers from the entire political spectrum

The name of the writer and journalist Hamid Shahrah was connected to his well-known book “Death of the Smile” and when he recently died in the tragic car accident his sudden departure was a real death of the smiles on the faces of his many colleagues and admirers and his readers. Undoubtedly, the disappearance of his like in a country lacking serious talents in every field of life is a big loss and extinguishes his highly important project.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh is Yemen's prominent poet and intellectual. He is the director of the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research (