SILVER LININGAttack on physician . Attack on civic values [Archives:2009/1226/Opinion]

January 19 2009

Dr. Mohammed Al-Qadhi
I guess it is only in Yemen where physicians are attacked and where hospitals are not away from the lawlessness of tribesmen. Several days ago, tribesmen with cold blood attacked Dr. Derhim al-Qadasi at Science and Technology hospital; they passed by the guards and used their daggers or Jambias to attack the physician because he called to condole and tell them that their father passed away in the hospital.

It is a complete chaos and lawlessness. This brutal incident which invited the resentment of many people across the country demonstrates complete indifference to law and order if they do really exist in our life.

The tribesmen would not have attacked the doctor, if they had known he had a tribe to stand by him; they knew he was from Taiz where people do not believe in tribal feuds but in learning and hard work as their key to a decent life.

It is the tribalization, if I might coin this word, that has marginalized law and order from our life; from the top official including the president to the ordinary policeman or traffic officer, tribal norm is to dominate their daily behavior. The president, the speaker of parliament and most of most of government officials run the country according to tribal norms rather than law and order. It is the tribe and the inability of the ruling regime to tame it that has made our life chaotic.

This attack is not simply incidental but an attack against the values of modernity and civic society represented by the people of Taiz. Yes, this city that has produced many well-educated professionals and civil servants spread all over the country. Taiz was in the 1970s of the last century the beacon of modern life and civic society that everybody aspired to have after the revolution in 1962. However, these values were marginalized since the advent of President Saleh to power; he nurtured the role of tribal Sheikhs and tribal norms at the expense of law and order. He and his people saw in Taiz and its educated people as a challenge to his tribal control and thus, they worked to weaken the modern culture coming from Taiz. As a city representing modern values and modernity, Taiz has been deflowered.

It seems that the government does not respond positively to any incident only when it is blackmailed or pressured. Dr. al-Qadasi does not have a tribe but his colleagues and civil society activists to defend him. They chose a civic means to protest the indifference of the government in arresting the attackers. The weakest ever Prime Minister Ali Mujawar accused the angry physicians of trying to politicize the case. It is a stupid excuse, of course. Again, his interior minister told the protestors that he would ignore the case as they did with Tawfik al-Khameri, a businessman from Taiz, if they made a big fuss about it.

I guess the government wanted the physicians to use kidnapping like Bani Dhibyan tribe to pressure the government to do its job and arrest the attackers. Does the government want al-Qadasi relinquish his civic values and appeal to his people in Taiz to block the Taiz-Sana'a road to get a positive government response?

Dr. Mohammed Al-Qadhi ([email protected]) is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.