Time Sana’a reined in fundamentalists
By: Adel Al-Shuj’a
Yemen Times, 10 April 2009
10 April 2009
We should not be silent about terrorism incidents that target security and tranquillity in Yemen. Rather, it is important to talk about what happened after such incidents. It a truth that everyone was greatly surprised by the acts of terrorism, but Yemen remains stronger in its defiance of such acts.
These incidents created both public and international solidarity. We can benefit from these lessons to create a new beginning in the country in order to avoid repeating such criminal acts.
Frankly speaking, there should be a new stage that makes us overcome all manifestations of relaxation on the levels of security, culture, and media. We need serious action. Furthermore, we need a law that convicts those who commit, assist with, cover up, or protect terrorism.
I would like to confirm that the reason behind terrorism and extremism is certain religious groups that receive funding to disseminate their brand of religion. Therefore, it is required to pull politics away from religion and expand the idea of a civil state and not a religious state.
Religious groups that received official encouragement trained their members, made them well-prepared, and readied them to sacrifice themselves at a moment’s notice. We shouldn’t ignore that there is more than one religious group in Yemen that practices religious work under the cover of politics. Many of these groups augmented conflicts in Afghanistan with a large number of volunteers. These groups attempted to reach tribes here in Yemen, as the poorer tribes are the weakest circle that can be penetrated and attracted to such causes. The reason is simply that the culture of tribes instigates daily conflicts. Consequently, these tribes consider tolerance as neglecting their rights and rights of the group. Therefore, revenge is the master of the situation. One of them was asked, “Will you be pleased to attain paradise and be tolerant with those who offend you?” He answered, “No, I would rather take my revenge and enter hell!”
As a result of this culture and psychology of conflict, such tribes are targeted either to provide protection or support for these religious groups. Those who carry guns against their relatives and cousins in a tribal or revenge war won’t care about abiding by civil law, nor do they easily accept living under it.
In addition to this, these tribes don’t understand the meaning of homeland or of religion, as there are no true religious jurisprudents in the general sense of the word where these tribes live. Their understanding is simple, or they don’t fully understand the concept of Islam. Therefore, they are easily infiltrated and deceived, and are taught to fight against the interests of the country.
What is more dangerous is that tribes legislate for the culture of violence both directly and indirectly. They target state interests and behave outside of the legitimacy of law. These tribes are assisted by some who use religion for their own twisted purposes. This is what happened when a man in the Ministry of Youth and Sports issued a fatwa stipulating that celebrating Mother Day is illicit because it imitates Jews and Christians, as he said.
In addition, a preacher at a mosque considered the Parliament members to be unbelievers after they passed a law that determine the legal marriage age to be 17 years. He said that this act is blasphemy, as legislation comes only from God and not from human beings. Fatwas such as these prompt youths – particularly frustrated youths – to resort to violence and suicide.
In fact, the government’s remissness with such people makes us suffer from a backward mentality that doesn’t believe in reason. Rather, such a mentality believes in killing and destroying the laws, principles, and values that are the basis of solidarity in society. Security forces are aware of what is going on, yet they believe that such groups don’t constitute a true security threat. However, many groups were weak in the past, but because they were left alone they turned into strong fanatics.
Therefore, we have to work on empowering the civil state. We shouldn’t involve religion in state governance, as this will lead to violence which will result in repeating conflicts we’ve already had in the past.
What is mentioned above leads us to pose a question: Since Islam highlights tolerance and since it is the only religion that accepts religions – whose people are called ‘People of the Book’ – that contradict it, why do those who assume to be Muslims practice the worst acts of intolerance, including bloody violence? The problem with these people is not that they are intolerant of others; rather, it that they are not even tolerant of themselves and people of the same religion, which makes us suffer all the more because of them.
As I already mentioned, these groups want to take us back to the past, which represents a kind of mythology for them. Mythology is, from their point of view, the best epoch that should be followed.
They don’t refer to the past to read it and to infer the best lessons from it. Rather, they recall history in order to form the present and the future according to the image that the past has drawn for them.
This image calls for a truce with the ruler of a country until they are able to cast the ruler down, since he believes in democracy, has a parliament and, of course, might have intervened in affairs of God, the creator and legislator!
On this basis, these groups consider others who disagree with them to be unbelievers, whether they are Muslims or not. This tendency creates the framework of violence that we currently suffer from in Yemen.
In conclusion, the future should involve a review of our school curriculums and the eradication of naïve compositional orations. We shouldn’t allow subjects that encourage the culture of hatred against others to be taught to our children. We should teach children how to be global, how to understand other cultures, and how to appreciate their beauty and morals. We should make tolerance a part of education, as we all live in one world. We should coexist with each other on the basis that religion is for God and the homeland is for all.