SILVER LININGCan tyranny of influential sheikhs be bridled? [Archives:2007/1022/Opinion]

February 5 2007

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Last week the newspapers reported on the agony of the people of Al-Rua'ash district in Ibb because of the unbridled arrogance and tyranny of a dictator sheikh. The man in question is Mohammed Ahmed Mansur, sheikh of Al-Jaashin territory in Ibb. The sheikh, also a member of the Shoura Council, displaced a number of families because they refused to pay him taxes.

Mansur seems to be living in the medieval ages where he owns big chunks of land and he sees the residents as his subjects. He continuously blackmails the people, demanding taxes and payment. Any person who refuses the orders of the sheikh and his escorts simply faces imprisonment in the sheikh's private jail.

The people got fed up and decided to end the tyranny by living in a tent. It is simply displacement.

The sheikh is supposed to act as the custodian of the law and he is not an ordinary person unaware of the law as he is an advisor to the president. However, the irony is that he is the predator in these crimes.

He is known as a poet who should be full of soft and tender feelings; we have known him as an old man whose main job is compose nice poetry to praise this or that ruler inside or outside the country. But on the ground he tends he is a monster who considers the people and the land his own property, having the right to do whatever he wants. He simply behaves like a king in his own kingdom territory of Al-Jaashin.

This sheikh is the same man who put the parliamentarian candidate from the socialist party in jail simply because he decided to run in his constituency. He wanted the people to vote for one candidate, his son.

I believe it is not only his wealth that pushes him to exercise such crimes, but it is also his position as an advisor to the president that boosts his tyranny. He exploits his position and his good relationship with the president to protect himself against accountability for all problems. His business is to hand reasonable and useful advice to the president. I do not really know what kind of advice such a person can deliver.

How can we talk about the implementation of the election platform concerning equal citizenship with the prevalence of such disgusting and barbaric practices that break law and the meaning of citizenship? I understand such a behavior from the advisor to the president of the country is an insult to the state of law and order and also an insult to the president himself who appointed him as his advisor.

I wonder where the interior minister and his long list of “great achievements”” stand here. Can he show us how he would achieve a real achievement in protecting these helpless citizens? Can the president and interior minister hold the man accountable for violating law and order? Can they bridle the tyranny of this influential sheikh and others like this man?

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