Racism in Olofi’s column [Archives:2004/718/Letters to the Editor]

March 8 2004

Nabeal El-Mansub
Doha, Qatar
[email protected]

While Mr Yahya Al-Olfi's intentions may have been to highlight a problem in Yemen in his article “Is Corruption Our Heritage?” I found his manner of explanation a little offensive and to be quite honest racist.
He compares the people who are running the country as invaders not of the pure Arab Race who immediately embraced Islam (check his history) but as the Yemeni-Ethiopian Half Caste or Persian Prisoner Armies.
If he actually goes back in history he will find that Yemen has very rarely been pure Arab (as he states) and has always been a mixture of people of African or Asian Heritage (Tihama, Hadhramout, Aden) even thousands of years ago, since Yemeni Traders and Seafarers traveled and married outside of their homeland. Also he will find that even the blue-eyed, blond members of the Yemeni community (Some even in the Olfi family) are not pure Arabs and will have some either Persian, Turkish or Afghani ancestry.
Regardless of this, what offends me is that his article infers that anyone who is not pure Arab Yemeni is not loyal to his country and is only looking to loot and rob the country.
I agree that there is a general corruption problem and mismanagement problem, but I think he should find a better way of expressing himself or drawing attention to the problem.
The problem is widespread and engulfs all branches of society and if he examines the Arab world closely he will find that it is not only a Yemeni Problem but an Arab national problem and nothing to do with origins.
By the way, just for information purposes, I am of neither African nor Turkish origin.