Public protests and appeals by a number of organizationsCalls for the release al-Muoid and al-Helah intensify [Archives:2003/637/Front Page]

May 26 2003
Sheikh Mohammed al-Mouid
Sheikh Mohammed al-Mouid
Thousands of Yemeni women took to the street last Saturday in Sana'a to protest the continuous detention of Sheikh Mohammed al-Mouid and his companion in Germany since last January as well as the arrest and disappearance of Abdul Salam al-Helah in Egypt since last September. The protesters gathered at al-Tahreer Square. They carried banners, demanding the release of al-Mouid and his companion Mohammed Zaid as well as disclosing the fate of al-Helah who was trapped by the Egyptian intelligence, according to the organizers of the protest gathering. They condemned terrorism and the Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. They also said in their banners that the international fight against terrorism would be meaningless unless there is a fight against the Israeli terrorism. Some of the organizers and relatives of the detainees delivered speeches, urging all people and international human rights organizations to interfere to get these people released. They demanded President Ali Abdullah Saleh to exercise more pressure on the US, German and Egyptian authorities to get the detainees released and send them back to Yemen to be tried if charges against them proved true.
In their letter to president Saleh, the organizers, the National Organization for Defending Human Rights and Freedoms (NODHR) and the Female Department at the Islah Party) asked the president to authorize some advocates to defend the detainees and suing Egypt for kidnapping al-Helah. They also requested him to confirm Yemen's stand in supporting the Palestinians in defending themselves against the Zionists.
They also asked the German as well as Egyptian ambassadors to Yemen to interfere with their governments to get the arrestees released, pointing out that the actions of the authorities against Yemeni citizens will affect Yemen's relationship with them. They considered these actions an attack on Yemeni sovereignty.
It was planned for the protest to go to the presidential palace but later it was called off. Eight representatives were selected to deliver the messages to president Saleh and both the German and Egyptian ambassadors.
The US authorities accuse al-Mouid of being Osama bin Laden's financier and supporting terrorist activities of al-Qaeda and Hamas. Al-Mouid defenders said he played an important role against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and that was done in accordance with the government's knowledge and support. Al-Mouid was arrested in Germany where he was trapped on a request from the US.
But, al-Helah was kidnapped in Egypt and his relatives accuse the Egyptian Embassy in Sana'a of playing a role in snatching him. Al-Helah has been working for the Yemeni intelligence and has played a role in extraditing and expelling some of the Arab Afghans from Yemen during the 1990s. He is believed to have valuable information the Egyptian authorities about the Egyptian Afghans. However, the Egyptian authorities denied that they arrested al-Helah and said he left Egypt for another country just few days after his arrival in Cairo last September, allegations which his relatives do not believe and confirm he is still in Egypt.
Tribesmen threatened that if al-Mouid is extradited to the US, the interests of both the US and German in Yemen will be harmed.
Despite the rising public protest against the detention of the arrestees, reliable Western sources in Sana'a have confirmed to the Yemen Times that the extradition of al-Mouid and his companion to the US has become very likely.
On the other hand, the National Organization for Defending Human Rights, NODHR has expressed its concerns and worries over holding al-Mouid as a captive for he is known as one of the most well-known moderate religious figures in Yemen.
Al-Mouid was detained by the German intelligence at Frankfurt airport on January first 2003.
The Yemen Times has received two faxed letters of appeal from the NODHR where it has called for the immediate release of Shiekh, Mohammed al-Mouid and his companion, Mohammed Zaed.
“We appeal to you, “the German Ambassador”, Germany, and its judiciary to set Shiekh al-Mouid free as quickly as possible,” the letter said.
It is believed that if Shiekh Mouid is extradited to the USA, this may have negative impact upon the Yemeni-German relations.
“Holding al-Mouid captive will make people fear traveling to Germany.
The detained has been known for a long time for his moderate thoughts, and has shown a rational mind and total refusal of terror,” the appeal further stated.
At the same time intensified efforts are currently being exerted on the government by many Islah and religious affiliates to pressurize the government to bring the two detainees back to Yemen.
On the other hand, the Yemen Times has received another letter of appeal addressing the Egyptian Ambassador for an immediate interference on the part of the Egyptian president to set Mr. Abdussalam al-Helaha free and bring him back to his family and relatives.
Al-Helah, a former intelligence official, has been held captive by the Egyptian authorities since September 20, 2002.
“Through you, (addressing the Egyptian Ambassador) we appeal to HE the Egyptian President, Mohammed Husni Mubarak to release him immediately and send him back to his family and relatives,” the letter said.
NODHR has expressed its sorrow for the detention of al-Hela by the Egyptian authorities and preventing his relatives to have contacts with him.
“We fear that the Yemeni-Egyptian relations might get affected. As an intelligence official at the political security office, it has made some people think that he may have secret information about some wanted Egyptians, who used to reside in Yemen and not for practicing an aggressive activity against Egypt,” the letter further noted.
“We as Yemenis, hold the Egyptian authorities accountable for al-Helah's detention and isolating him is considered to be a crime against humanity,” the NODHR letter of appeal concluded.