Mounting Anger [Archives:2001/43/Viewpoint]

October 22 2001

Saturday’s huge protest in Amran signaled the dissatisfaction of many Yemenis with what is going on in Afghanistan. At mosques, many imams condemned the attacks and called them an act against Islam. Interestingly, the public is understanding that the attacks are against Islam, the very thing the USA doesn’t want. In this very column, I raised the possibility that Yemenis and Muslims would consider this war to be against Islam rather than terrorism. My calculations were correct.
The USA must understand that Muslims’ reactions to the war is logical, especially as hundreds of innocent civilians have lost their lives because of those attacks. The States should also understand that pressure against Muslim governments that have supported the war is mounting by the day. Unless the USA shows substantial changes towards achieving fewer casualties and ending the war, the pressure could be unbearable to the Arab and Muslim leaders.
In the mosque sermon I attended last Friday, the imam openly demanded President Saleh stand strong in opposing those attacks. “I tell the President that its his duty to deliver to the people that elected him. Yemenis don’t want their brothers slaughtered in Afghanistan. He cannot be satisfied with the innocent children, women, and men buried alive with mighty bombs dropped on their heads…” he said.
To put it frankly, nobody, including myself and surely our President wants more atrocities. People are asking, “The conditions of the Afghans were already among the worst in the world, why kill them further? Can’t there be a political solution to this?”
I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of George W. Bush. He must be facing tremendous pressure from worldwide public opinion. He may not face that pressure in the States, but I am sure if he leaves them to any Islamic country, he will not feel good at all.
Things here in Yemen are not going out of control. It is just that the people wanted to peacefully express their opinion, which is against the strikes. I need at this point to express my satisfaction with the appropriate action of the government to allow the protestors to express their opinion, even though I was a bit worried that the armed protestors may cause violence. Thank God that didn’t happen, even though I wish that coming protests would not have armed men in them.