Fundamentals here and over there [Archives:2003/640/Opinion]

June 9 2003

In the Home Front:
Mr. Abdul-Qader Bajammal, the Prime Minister was not off mark when he pointed out last week that the top items on the agenda of the New Cabinet will be to combat terrorism and deal with the corruption that has plagued our society far too long to be just dealt with closed eyes. Anyone, who knows Yemen well enough, is not oblivious to the fact that these two issues have been a major drawback to getting stability and development to interact together for the mobilization of all the potential that awaits the Republic of Yemen, socially and economically. If a suitable environment can be created to attract investment and harness the latent energies and capabilities of the people of Yemen, one is confident that great achievements can be achieved in little time. Yemenis have proven time and again, at home and overseas, that they can be productive and cohesive in working towards a common goal, when the right environment exists for them to unleash their capabilities.
This issue, we deal with the first priority. It must be borne in mind that when we are talking of terror, we should not confine ourselves to the White House and Tel Aviv interpretations of terror. Nevertheless, the general population of Yemen is not at all enthusiastic about uninformed or sometimes needy Yemenis being misled by religious misconceptions that have been imported by well organized and dubious self-proclaimed religious so called “fundamentalists”, whose fundamentals and perceptions of Islam, have been often been more of a great disservice to Islam. Many Yemenis are realizing that such orders need to be checked in their paramilitary manifestations, conceptual misinterpretations and institutional implications. It is important for Islam to remain, the religion of tolerance, reason and down-to-earth good sense, since these were the attributes by which Islam gained the overwhelming majority of its converts throughout the world. We must always bear in mind that Islam is the religion of peace and understanding. This does not mean that Moslems are to be off guard in protecting their interests and their proper moral convictions, but they should do so in a rational and progressive manner, that does not in anyway corrupt the civilized approach that the great prophet of Islam, Mohammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his early disciples followed in reflecting the message of Islam. This is especially important, when considering that the Moslem World is in an extremely weak and fragile position, facing insurmountable pressures from the outside and within the Nation, as a whole and the individual Moslem states.
Having said all that, we must bear in mind that in Yemen, we are also facing another form of terror, which has become a dangerous menace to our security situation. The persistent long drawn out blood feuds that are tarnishing our cities with needless bloodshed is certainly a menace that must be dealt with. This calls for a systematic national effort that will review all the cases leading to such needless and senseless bloodshed, in which ironically the innocent are the first victims, as we saw in the latest barrages of blood feud clashes that erupted in Sana'a last week. In fact, some observers are pointing out that these erratic scenes of violence have turned Yemen into a war zone, with clashes occurring sporadically throughout the country, especially in the cities, which used to be traditionally regarded as “neutral zones” from any tribal confrontation. Those who argue for “maintaining our traditions and customs” overlook any of the important customs, which were so useful in maintaining some semblance of order and provided adequate protection for the innocent or those who are not involved in the dispute. The Government should work along with the social and tribal leaders towards, first of all, applying the law against those who commit any acts of murder or endanger the security of the general population firmly and equitably, with all regard to due process and human rights, both as defined by Sharia'a Law and criminal and civil legislation. While this observer has not seen the draft Gun Law passed by the Cabinet, it goes without saying that we need to make great strides in regulating the use and handling of firearms, some of which in fact are already part of the inherited social customs, which have again been overlooked by the advocates of preserving our traditional customs. One does not have to look far back in time, when many of these social issues were indeed resolved and Yemen had an almost crime-free setting, albeit in a more deprived somewhat feudal context.

Over There:
(Ref. John Bettiga Letter to Editor-US Fundamentals in last issue)
I would just like to point out that Bill Clinton is “where he is” more because of the XXII Amendment to the US Constitution (1951), which limited the number of terms one person can be President of the US to two terms, and the precedent followed by almost all US Presidents except FDR. On comparison of Bush and Clinton, I agree it would be futile, but the scorecard I would probably use would give the latter a long-shot lead in all areas, going from the budget to foreign relations to oratory, etc. It is only fair that credit should be given where it is due.