SILVER LININGWhen political activity turns nonsense [Archives:2007/1056/Opinion]

June 4 2007

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
I was truly shocked by the threats and abuses that Mohammed al-Sabri, spokesman of the opposition coalition has been receiving through the last two weeks. I personally saw some of the badmouthing sent through a mobile. It is really awful and disgusting to see such insulting messages. I felt completely sad about the future of this country. It is a substantial degradation of the political drive in the country.

After each statement the spokesman makes, he receives similar insulting messages from the same number. The messages show that the sender is angry with the press statements regarding several issues. He is not an ordinary man but someone who is politically motivated and is angered by such statements. Whom do you think? Can you sort out this puzzle?

It is really nonsense that political issues of disagreement turn to badmouthing and threats through mobile SMSs. Wow! This is shocking, isn't it?

Al-Sabri can do nothing but verbally express the views of his parties which are effective partners in the democratization process. We have seen the media barrage between the ruling GPC and the opposition coalition every now and then and this is better than any other ways of expressing themselves and voicing their views. I think it is logical that the affected parties should respond in the same way, without any need to such childish behavior of threatening or badmouthing which really demonstrates disbelief in democracy and that there is intent to silence vocal people even such ridiculous practices. How come that they claim to be democratic and shrug their shoulder in pride of that while they do not want to listen to verbal criticism from this opposition politician or newspaper? Political and democratic practices are meaningless and nonsense to those people standing behind or supporting such trivial behavior.

Again, we believe that the government is embroiled into another fight with the press and journalists over the mobile news service and some blocked websites. The government alleges that it has ordered the stop of this service provided by Nass mobile and Bilakyoud mobile because they have no license to do that.

As we understand there is no regulation governing this business just like running online newspapers. As long as the information ministry claims it can provide licenses, Nass and Bilakyoud mobile should challenge their allegations and apply for a license and if they are denied, then they should break hell loose and mount their protests against the government.

This mobile service has been going on for several months. Why does the government now ask for licensing?

These things are a bad manifestation of the deterioration of the democratization drive in the country. Putting more restrictions on politicians and media reflect the ill intent of the people in charge.

By and large, democracy has been the main asset to Yemen which has been praised by the international community for nothing but the relatively open scope of freedom of journalism in particular. Democracy is not just restricted to elections where results are manipulated in different ways. The international community praised the September 2006 presidential elections because there has been genuine competition. But, this is not enough to tell the world you are democratic. Therefore, the latest report of the US-based Freedom House praised the presidential elections but described Yemen as a not free state because of the harassments that journalists are going through. Can these people at power understand that such reports will not be in favor of the country and its fragile economy which needs a lot of support?

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