Prisoner of conscience Scholar Yahya al-Dailami to the Yemen Times:”Cruel regimes are the reason behind terrorism!” [Archives:2005/878/Reportage]

September 19 2005
"There is no space for freedoms in this country, and this is why I call on the international community to help me defend my case and survive!"
“There is no space for freedoms in this country, and this is why I call on the international community to help me defend my case and survive!”
Interviewed by Nadia al-Sakkaf
Yemen Times Staff

He is a dead man walking. He has been sentenced to death for an ambiguous crime and has not even been given a chance to defend himself. Shiekh Yahya Hussein al-Dailami and his colleague Mohammed Miftah were imprisoned almost a year ago. Although he is a well-known scholar respected in his arena he is not very respected by the state that governs this country, or so he says:

Q:What is actually the crime that you are accused of?

A:It is a feeble accusation of communicating with Iran. In reality there is no real case -otherwise why wouldn't the general attorney or the court give our defence lawyer a copy of the case file? All there is to my issue is that the system needed to invent this accusation in order to reach certain political objectives and to escape its own problems. What I know is that since we have been kidnapped by the political security apparatus and today all that my colleague Mohammed Miftah had been interrogated about were our teaching activities in mosques and our call for a sit-in against the Sa'ada war as well as questions about Sana'a Youth's activities in the events created in support of Iraq and Palestine. No communication or accusation was directed to us unless we were in court. Which tells me that this is only a cover for attempts targeting our beliefs and our scientific, political and academic activities.

Q: Why Iran? And do you really have a relation with Tehran?

A:I have no relation whatsoever with Iran in the sense that is portrayed. All that there was is that I was invited as a social figure to one of the national occasions of the embassy and there were many others present including diplomats and even Yemeni figures. I had visited Iran at one time in the past participating in a cultural conference. I was a part of the Yemeni delegation headed by Mr. Abbas al-Shami of the GPC. The delegation consisted of Mr. Hatem Abu Hatem one of the prominent leadership figures of the Nasserite party and I as a religious scholar. My participation in these two events, the national celebration in Sana'a and the cultural conference in Tehran were the pillars that the general attorney based its accusation on. The irony of this all is that there is an existing cooperation between Yemen and Iran in both political and economic domains and it is a known fact that all of the Iranian activities in Yemen have been canalised through the Yemeni government who signed many agreements with Iran. All of this indicates the stupidity of this case altogether.

The real issue in my view is that the ruling system has a problem in affiliating everything of the Zaidi sect to Iran. This is a problem targeting the scholars, students, politicians, and Zaidi centers in general because they are Shia and the system in Iran is also Shia. What has been rumoured in this regard in spite of this similarity is that the creation of these centres in Yemen was triggered by the Yemeni investigative police and Yemeni authorities directly or indirectly.

The followers of the Zaidi sect are a victim of a political game as they have been forced to dewell into intellectual and religious conflict with no purpose. The so called activists of al-Ithnaashariya of the Zaidi sect have created conflicts within yet none of them you find in the prisons or shot dead during the Sa'ada war or in Hajja, Sana'a or Dhamar for that matter. I am talking about reality here and I do not want to be taken as bias against any Islamic sect, especially the Ithnaashariya. I criticise the double standards and divide and rule method of dealing with the various sects in Yemen. The government uses these conflicts to arrest many people, sometimes even children under the pretext of conspiring under the Ithnaashariya sect are imprisoned.

Q: In your opinion, why Ithnaashariya – Zaidia sect is the most targeted and why now?

A: For the very reasons that drive the political system to create problems based on intellectual and religious differences. The system embraces fundamental religious groups and uses those in endorsing many of its desired issues especially issues relating to the systems conflict with the previous system in the south that reached its peak in 1994.

Q: The Zaidi imams and preachers, don't they have a stance towards this issue?

A:It is s well known fact that the Zaidi imams since long were not so interested in politics. They used to focus their attention to dealing with the social and intellectual problems more than political events. However, we found that many of these imams rushed into blessing the Yemeni Unity and the constitution and the treaties that were agreed between the two partners and have issued a number of supporting declarations and statements, because they want the Yemeni society to be a peaceful stable one.

However, the Zaidi followers do not have organised groups in the sense of organisations and so they are the weakest link in the system's eyes and this is why they are the most targeted. The system needs a target to blame terrorism in Yemen on especially with the increasing international pressure to combat terrorism around the world. Therefore creating the Sa'ada conflict and hence sacrificing the Zaidi sect in this drama because they are the easiest target. The scientific Zaidi sect movement is still weak today because it is living in the past studying the history of this sect and has not been able yet to build future dimensions on that knowledge. There are many reasons why this is the case now of which is that this movement does not have a concrete system, else it would have been able to produce a clear transparent picture to the world about the Islamic thinking and theology. Many of the fundamental Islamic movements fear the immerging of serious reform movements and hence the extinguishing of such initiatives and the ridding of their scripts and limiting of the religious education of such sects has been exercised by the system continuously so as to forbid this movement from growing and maturing proving that there is no space for freedom in this country.

Q: In many of your statements you exposed many human rights violations that you suffered from, did you get any international support?

A: I was kidnapped at five o'clock in the morning from the gates of al-Filaihi mosque on ninth of September last year. A number of armed men wearing civilian clothes picked me up and took me to the political security prison where I stayed in an isolated cell for two and half months. They took everything away from me and left me with only the clothes I was wearing and while blind folded they questioned me for many long nights. They threatened to kill many of my teachers and distinguished scholars like scholar Mohammed bin Mohammed al-Mansour and scholar Hamod bin Abbas al-Mouyed. They also threatened to kill my family and brothers, and asked so many provocative and unreasonable questions. Then the attorney took hold of me and interrogated at the political security premises me without allowing my defense lawyers to attend the interrogation and they were stopped at the gate of the premises. The Penalty Court right from the first day of trial and until date would not give us a copy of the described case. The defense board of 12 volunteer lawyers were prevented from exercising their role in my favor to the extent that pushed them to resign the case in more than one occasion on the pretext that the court is unconstitutional and that they don't want to be a part of the fools game played by the Yemeni jurisdiction, especially with the significant violations of the laws and international conventions. In all of the sessions we reject what is taking place and instead we busy ourselves with reciting Quran, which is the main source of the constitution.

Q:How do you view the issue of terrorism in general aside from your individual case?

A:This is a term that had been used and carried through media instruments and politicians tc. However, this term does not have a fixed clear definition as there are many concepts used such as state terrorism, group terrorism, a terrorism group and so on. The truth is that terrorism is the ruin on earth regardless of its kind or size. It is everything that harms mankind whether as an individual or a group. Killing of the innocent people, children and old citizens is terrorism. Starving people or occupying other people's land is terrorism. Oppressing people and taking away their right to be free, invading their homes and abusing the nations' wealth and resources is terrorism.

Q:There are rumours that claim Islam had a hand in creating or at least encourages terrorism, what do you say to that?

A:There is a rumour of this kind and in many times the link between Islam and terrorism is almost inevitable. This is the work of international media that serves the interests of a few. They do not want to understand that Islam as a theology and intellectual thought is able to deal with humanitarian issues if it is rightly understood and not misused. These few forces that take it upon their shoulders to destroy the image of Islam, of which is the global Zionism from one end and the extremist Islamic fundamentals from the other who claim that they are the only ones who should talk on behalf of Islam are a result of dictatorship systems. The fact is that Islam is a religion for all humanity stating that if one man was wrongly killed it is as if the whole humanity was murdered. Islam is a religion that wants peace for mankind where the rich and strong does not overcome the poor and weak.

Q:The how do you explain the terrorism and violent actions that take place in the Islamic society?

A:If you are talking about the terror or violence not created by either the politics or investigative police then there are many reasons for it to occur. The most prominent reason for people to become violent is a reaction to the cruelty and misconduct that is exercised on the people. Oppressed people tend to blow up in different directions, and when even the basic rights are not fulfilled then you should expect a reaction. The irony of this is that the so called democratic systems in the west that made up international conventions for human rights and so forth are the very ones that encourage the oppressive systems and regimes in the rest of the world to serve its own interests.

There is also poverty, and if poverty was a result of natural consequences such as lack of resources then the society should be able to accept it and try to change its reality through peaceful means. There are poor communities in the world that do not suffer from such terrorism but if the reason behind poverty is cruelty and the abuse of resources by a minority of the society then there must be a reaction. Especially if the people perceive that they are being wronged and that there mere survival is in question. And such societies do not find a way to express them selves other than violence because other means don't help to stop corruption. This means that the cruel regimes are the main reason behind violence and terrorism.

Appeals from the al-Dailami's family

Just because he dared to say the truth!

It is sad when I think of it and it is driving me insane. My husband was one of well-respected people and was a loving man. He took care of his family and me and always made sure that we are happy. He took us in picnics and journeys and always took us out to lunch or dinner every week.

He was the problem solver to all who knew him and mediated between people and solved disputes. He encouraged me to continue my university education and I owe it to home that I am an accredited pharmacist today. He used to help me both inside the house and outside. I just can not understand how such a beautiful human being could be treated this way. Just because he dares to say the truth?

Today my husband awaits the death rope and I await God's mercy and justice in this world. If there is at all any truth to organizations that work for the sake of freedoms and justice please come forward and stop this tragedy.

Dr. Amal Hajjar

Wife of Yahyah al-Dailami

Daddy please come home!

Why did they take my daddy? I just want my daddy to come home. He is a good man never hurt anyone, we are waiting for our father to come home.

Miriam (8 years old) daughter of Yahyah al-Dailami

Dailami the man

I am writing to you about my brother Yahya al-Dailami the man and not the religious scholar now in prison for political reasons. He used to be a role model and in my youth I always went to him for questions that wondered me, and he always had the answers. In many times instead of telling me what he thought about a certain topic he would direct me to sources and ask me to form my own opinion. One day he asked me to read a book about Linen and I did not understand his point until I finished the book.

He always encouraged us to read international novels and well known stories such as “fathers and sons”, “Les Miserables”, “the three musketeers” tc. During his college life he used to meet with people from various orientations and have dialogue with them. He cared for everyone and made every attempt possible to ensure they are fine and happy. He is nothing close to fundamentalism and he is a man with a big heart. The authorities might not see this because they are blinded by the anger at his opposition to blood shed in Sa'ada. But I hope that the rest of the world is not as blind.

Ali al-Dailami

Brother of Yahyah al-Dailami