Reinforcing the culture of political dialogue [Archives:2009/1221/Opinion]

January 1 2009

By: Dr. Tariq Al-Mansub
Political disagreements shouldn't spoil our cordiality. Divergence of opinion is an indication of a free and united society. It is impossible to imagine a nation as diverse as Yemen sharing viewpoints on all issues. A society that experiences such agreement is often considered inactive and sluggish. Yemen, in contrast, remains unified in its diversity. Political activities, a multiparty system, and a developed space for the freedom of expression, cannot be denied except by intractable and narrow minded individuals. Readers of the articles published in the official, partisan or independent newspapers in Yemen can judge the degree of democracy within the Yemeni political spectrum for themselves.

Dialog represents a natural channel to overcome disagreements. It is the alternative to political and ideological violence that is often practiced through political speeches. It is the violence that some of our intellectuals are accustomed to practicing on the Yemeni reader under the pretext of freedom of expression and opinion.

We don't disagree much on the necessity of discussion of the issues relevant to our society. What we do disagree on is the ownership of the issues, and the rights of others to express different opinions. This leads us to question the reasons for an absence of a “dialog culture”” between intellectuals and politicians in our society. It also leads us to ask about the reasons behind the lack of a reinforced political dialog which accepts counter perspectives as legitimate and necessary to a democratic society.

After researching the ethical principles of a political dialog which develops an atmosphere of mutual respect between all components of the society