On the celebration of false idols and rewarding arrogant impotence

SHAFAQNA – I will not be kind today! I will not be kind when unworthy individuals are being celebrated for fictional prowess when their achievements have been to stand at the right time, under the right TV angle when Western media needed its pound of Arab flesh to flaunt to the public and cry democratic advancement.

Tawakkol Karman, 2011 Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was awarded yet another title this October when she was crowned with the Freedom Award for the National Civil Rights Museum.

Following is an excerpt of the press release: “Yemen’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights activist Tawakkol Karman was granted today the 2016 Freedom Award by the US National Civil Rights Museum.  Having received the prize, Tawakkol Karman became the first Yemeni woman to win the Freedom Award granted to outstanding individuals who have contributed gratefully to civil and human rights and laid the groundwork for present and future leaders in the battle for human rights.  She dedicated the award to the Yemeni youth who “had a dream for which they sparked the greatest peaceful revolution in the region, and are yet struggling for it.””

So what’s the problem you may ask?

While I would normally applaud an award which recognises and celebrates the role of women in promoting human rights issues and civil liberties, especially when they are themselves part of a minority perceived as “lesser.”  – Ms Karman’s work … what work some may wonder, did not warrant such recognition!

Actually it is much more troubling than that. Ms Karman’s work, or in this case, lack of, is not the problem, it is rather her political affiliations which are.

Ms Karman represents after all a faction within Yemen which was actually outlawed – the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ms Karman who is here fronted as this grand pioneer for civil rights advancements, democracy and freedom sits and speaks for a faction which encourages and embellishes the oppression of women by rooting its narrative on a warped interpretation of Islam. Understand here that I am in no way, shape, or form implying that Sunni Islam is warped – it is the Muslim Brotherhood complex I am referring to here.

I fear mass amnesia might have blinded Ms Karman’s cheerleaders … As Yemen lies in ruins, as her people have been sold to the lead of Saudi Arabia Ms Karman has continued to support the very people, and very powers which for decades enslaved and oppressed Yemen.

Do not think former President Abdullah Saleh the only devil in Yemen’s story … there were many demons in the corridors of power, and they all share in the bloodshed and countless rights violations Yemen suffered.

Let’s not redact history so quickly that we learn to celebrate those individuals who while advocating change, actually only ever ambitioned to hug the limelight and make a name for themselves.

There have been many great and brave Yemeni women since 2011, who, away from the glare of TV cameras have worked to defend principles of equality before the rule of law, accountability, transparency and courage before tyranny – none aligned themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ms Karman says she speaks for the oppressed and the weak, and yet she enjoys the patronage of the Brotherhood … still her name in Yemen is being associated to that of a man whose hands have been died red by the blood of the innocent – Hamid al-Ahmar.

The infamous al-Ahmar brothers who today hid in Riyadh palaces so that he could better oversee the genocide of his kin.

So here I ask again what did Ms Karman achieve exactly because really we are curious!

Her stand against the presidency of President Saleh back in 2011 was not hers alone, it was a people who rose to demand change – Ms Karman happened to be there for the photoshoot.

Her stand against the regime in 2011 was not exactly that either since her protest was only against certain factions within the regime, not the nepotism it spoke for. Her plight was really to assert those powers supporting her …

Here is a question: can we today really put the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom in the same sentence? Do not conflate my criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni Islam. Sunni Islam should not be made to pay the price for the Brotherhood’s betrayal of its principles of tolerance, justice and truth.

Yemen deserves better than Ms Karman. Yemen deserves the courtesy of its truth, and history – not one redacted version of events, not one packaged pseudo-democracy.

By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna

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