Sheikh Abdullah Sa’atar to YT: “Many a coup de etat gives power to persons who have no administrative, scientific or educational experience. All their qualifications are “prison, tank, club and a bragging media.!!” [Archives:2001/11/Interview]

March 12 2001

Q: What are the internal obstacles facing Islamic movements?
A: With regard to internal problems I believe that they are blown out of all proportions. Some come to depict disputes and controversies inside the Islamic movement, which is not true. They wish that the movement will crack up which is a vain hope. The Islamic movement is very much united. If any person is found indulging in nefarious activities and is reported to be of the movement, at the end he is declared to be an intruder on the Islamic movement. Furthermore, reports and condemnations issued by Islamic movements do not hesitate to inflict the severest penalty on such perpetrators more than reports of the secularist movements.
Many an act of sabotage and kidnapping is reported to be plotted by Islamic members. However, documents proving this and the identity of those perpetrators are not made public to prove the involvement of Islamic movements in these acts.
Q: How can we support the movement on the basis of the individual?
A: Backward and third world countries view the election race and the peaceful transfer of power as an ” exchange of seats”. However, we view this as a way to find competent, qualified and sincere persons who can better manage the affairs of the people. The point is not to replace a person by another one, but to have a civilized race. We focus on quality not quantity. So it is only through physical and mental hard work and sincerity that things change and the movement gains power.
Islamists have attained high positions in universities, schools, hospitals, and other establishments and institutions. The Islamic cadre is discernible everywhere and in all fields. This is power in our view and is not only a rush to reign and assume a post while you know nothing about it. Many a coup de etat gives power to persons who have no administrative, scientific or educational experience. All their qualifications are “prison, tank, club and a bragging media.!!
Q: Does Islah have a project to rule in future? What is the program laid down to achieve that goal?
A: We are part of a nation. We believe in the course that Yemen has chosen for the peaceful transfer of power and for upholding the constitution and laws in force. We work within the political framework and are fully known to the people. He who has any comment is requested to tell us his view. We have MPs and have already participated in power. So ” What are the mistakes that can be taken on us?”
Our program is to adhere to the constitution and work according to the rules and regulations of the country.
Q: What is the relationship of al-Eyman University with Islah?
A: Many a person relates al-Eyman university and mosques to Islah. We say that al-Eyman university is a project to qualify academic cadre for Yemen, especially as there is a marked downfall in the number of scientists in the language, law of distribution of estate, science of Hadith. Yemen is in need of people qualified in these fields. al-Eyman University is an Islamic university and whoever feels interested and meets the conditions is welcome to join this university. Mosques are the houses of God and not those of Islah.
Q: I am sure you’ve read the “al-Nasihah” book. What is the credibility of that book? Why did the writer of the book cover his identity by using another name “Sadek Amin”? Is he afraid of you and is there any terrorism in Islah?
A: If we are to say that the book is right or wrong, there should be someone to talk to. However, the writer is not known and the printing house is not written on the book which is against the Print and Publication Law. The book is part of the conspiracy against the Islamic movement in Yemen. The movement has never indulged in clashes with the authorities. There are many great scholars and wise figures who are open to discussion. Therefore, there is no basis for all that is written in that book.
Q: Will you please elaborate on the content of the book?
A: The book say that there is terrorism, dictatorship and oppression imposed by the Islamic movement on its dissenting members . However, this is not at all true. The book indicates that these members are afraid of suppression. But there has never been anyone harmed after dissenting from the movement. An illustration in point is the current culture Minister who used to be a member in the movement before the establishment of the Islah party. Did the Islamic Brethren harm him when he left them?
Every body is free to join or leave the movement. So the writer of the book wants actually to gain instant fame. There is not much truth in it. He said that I was a terrorist and that I abused the public wealth and I said “Have you got any proof?” If he has any proof why doesn’t he publish it or submit it to courts?!
Q: And why was it put out for circulation just before the elections?
A: After the Soviet Union disintegrated some started claiming that Islam was the new enemy. Anti-Islam organizations started propagating views against Islam in the western countries. Some people want to join and come close to the west for fighting Islam on the pretext of fighting terrorism and fanaticism.
Q: How do you see your relations with President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the authority after the elections are over and the referendum on constitutional amendments?
A: Political affairs are settled through institutions not by individuals. We have the Shoora Council, Supreme Authority and the General Secretary to declare our stand. We have also an official spokesman for Islah.
As a member of Islah and of Islah’s Supreme Authority I say that Islah’s relationship with the President has been very strong for a long time. We are determined to keep it as strong as ever. The relationship with authority should be based on cooperation, appreciating the good and fighting the bad. Besides, Islah has always been a supporter of the president since the secessionist war in 1994 and then after that in building the modern Yemen.
Q: How strongly are you going to adhere to your electoral agenda, and how are you going to carry that out?
A: We will abide by what we have introduced in our program in the local councils depending on the means available. However, this should be based on cooperation by the state institutions. If the Finance Ministry and Central Bank do not allow projects, nobody and no party can carry out anything.
Q: In the pre-election period there has been a heated campaign against Islah by the GPC newspapers. Islah was accused of fanaticism, taking Islam as a cover, corruption, etc. In your opinion what is the state of the game after the elections?
A: They can say what they like if only they have the proof. It is not right to accuse a person if you have no proof against him. If they have any proof they will never hesitate to publish or mention it in public.
What does fanaticism mean in their opinion? Does it mean that whoever abides by Sunnah is a fanatic? Does it mean whoever prays is a fanatic? We want to know exactly what fanaticism and terrorism mean in their opinion?
Q: Is not this a sign of a confrontation between Islah and GPC? Do you think there will be another strategic alliance between the two parties?
A: We do hope that there won’t be any confrontation among the parties. We dream of a peaceful Yemen where no single drop of blood is shed. We pin our hopes on the president to push this forward and control things on the basis of Sharia’ (Islamic law).
Q: After statements by Mr. Nasr Taha Mustafa, chairman of strategic studies regarding the Thakafiah issue, his center was considerably affected and its publications stopped. Is this a signal of suppressing the hardline group against the moderate ones inside Islah?
A: First and foremost there is no such thing as a hardline group and a moderate group in Islah. The issue of al-Thakafiah was taken to court to be settled. We had the view that this person had violated the constitution and the Shara’a Allah. So we filed a case against him in court. Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zandani was the first to call for his trial and also the first to be attacked by many people who did not understand our stand.
With regards to Nasr Taha, I have the right to tell him that he was wrong. We are in a party with regulations that should be upheld and respected. However, nobody harmed Mr. Nasr or accused him.