ReflectionsWasting precious water, lightnings, and avoiding extremism [Archives:2004/756/Opinion]

July 19 2004

By Yahya Al-Olfi
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Water in the zone where I am living is only pumped once per week and that can be justified as an effort by the water and sanitation authority to maintain water for a longer time as possible but what I cannot understand! is the silence of the people, the mayoralty and other relevant organs while they see daily water pipes bursting everywhere without any due maintenance. Why the water and sanitation authority does not announce an emergency number and encourage people to phone. People say that the number is known and is said to be “171”.I remember having heard it or read about it but that is not enough. I asked one of the citizens whose house was next to a bursting water pipe why he did not phone the water emergency unit? He answered, that he did, but his call was met with indifference. Sana'a Water basin is threatened during the upcoming decade or so to run out . It is useless to pump water once per week whilst most of the water is being wasted in the streets due to ill or non-existent maintenance of burst waterpipes or tampered water counters.
A few days ago it rained and this is a good sign because many simple minded Yemenis still believe that god punishes us by holding back rain and is content with us when it rains cats and dogs. Anyhow, Thanks god! Or else people would have thought, it did not rain because we are not for the self proclaimed theological Imam. The problem here, is the total negligence by the government and the people to install lightning conductors. I am speaking about this because a relative of mine told me that an incident took place near to their area where a lightning struck a man while enjoying the pouring rain through his house's window. The poor man was cut into two halves. In fact I heard news on Al-Jazeera that up to seven individuals were killed likewise. So, while the mayoralty is doing well on cleanliness why it does not encourage the people to install lightning conductors as an exemplary approach to be generalized around the country.
Recently, I read about the government's intention to establish moderate Islamic teaching centers and that is O.K as long as the government meets its promises to unite religious curriculae all over the Republic and to ban sectarian and private religious schools. The new curriculum which is said to be moderate must avoid referring to others as infidels and religious teachers should have background screening so as to avoid any bigotry if any. While we are with the government in this endeavor we must not forget also that such a step needs external and internal support due to the many difficulties to be faced.
The religious curriculum must not be formulated in a way antagonistic to other religions. The children must know that there are other religions in the world and that everybody's religion must be respected.
It should be concise, open minded and farsighted. Religious history of Yemenis should be taught, how they used to adore the moon, the Sun, became Christian, Conversion to Judaism by many and after a period of about thirty years from conversion they embraced a brand new religion which is Islam. That Christian and Jewish Yemenis vanished little by little through conversion to Islam and who remained left Yemen to Occupied Palestine in 1994. In short, true historic information should be available and there should be no monopoly or holding back of information because of the sensitivity of this or that.
Religious Teachers should be special in that they are to be humane, wide minded and cultivated. They should be graduates of a certain faculty where the student must have gone through all Islamic religious sects and after having become well informed with other world theologies so as to avoid the current narrow minded approach to religion education.