Yemen: The Sheikh, Women and the NYT

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

Yemeni women played an important role in their country's revolution this past year. They were at the forefront of many marches and were a fine example of bravery and steadfast. Therefore netizens were enraged by Sheikh Hamid Al-Ahmar, a member of Al Islah’s political leadership, who allegedly made an offensive statement regarding Yemeni revolutionary women. His comments were published in the New York Times article on May 23rd in an article entitled “Yemen’s Many Factions Wait Impatiently for a Resolution.”

The offensive remarks were:

But when asked about the square, he shifted to a sharper tone: “There was bad behavior, which turned the square into a discotheque! Those women wanted to go hand in hand with their boyfriends as lovers in the demonstrations. This is not right and is against our religion.”

Atiaf Alwazir, one of many Yemeni activists demanded an apology from the Sheikh. She tweeted:

@WomanfromYemen: i demand an apology from Hamid al-Ahmar for insulting women revolutionaries when he spoke to the new york times ‪#yemen‬

Amal Albasha, a prominent and veteran activist, who is also Chairperson of the Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF), wrote a blog post [ar] demanding an apology from the Sheikh. She writes:

الجدير بالذكر أن الإساءة والتعريض بالثائرات اليمنيات في ساحات الثورة منذ إندلاعها في بداية العام الماضي ليس بالأمر الجديد علينا, إنما الجديد في الأمر الآن هو ان تأتي هذه المرة من طرف يقدم نفسه كثائر ومدافعاً وداعماً للثورة وساحاتها ومسيراتها برجالها ونسائها وهذا أقسى وأمر
The abuse of revolutionary Yemeni women in squares across Yemen, since the beginning of the uprising at the start of last year, is not something new for us. What is new now is that it comes from someone who introduces himself as a revolutionary and a defender and supporter of the revolution, and its squares, and marches, and of its men and women. This is harsher and more bitter.

Summer Nasser tweeted in dismay:

@SummerNasser: #Yemen: Bad mouthing women is against our religion. Making assumptions is against our religion. Therefore, (continued)

@SummerNasser: #Yemen: Therefore, what Hamid is saying is baseless and against our religion.

She wondered:

@SummerNasser: Where in the world is @TawakkolKarman on this statement of Al-Ahmar?

Luai Ahmed tweeted angrily:

‏@JustLuai: Hameed Al-Ahmar needs eggs thrown at him… Brick shaped eggs… Made of bricks.

And Sam Waddah noted:

@SamWaddah:I feel outraged by douchebag Al-Ahmar's irresponsible statement about the brave women of ‪#Yemen‬ who amazed the entire world! Disgusting!

That same evening Sheikh Hamid Alhamar's Twitter account tweeted a clarification in which he denied making those statements.

المكتب الإعلامي للشيخ حميد الأحمر ينفي صحة مانشر بصحيفة نيويورك تايمز —————————– أعرب… ‎
Sheikh Hamid Alahmar's press office denies the statements which were published by the New York Times…..

Afrah Nasser posted a letter written to the New York Times by Yemeni feminist activist Sarah Jamal in her blog post, which includes a translation of the Sheikh's denial of having made those statements.

Sarah demanded a reply from the respected publication:

We kindly ask your help as journalists in the one and only New York Times to help us know the truth of that interview given that we are going to file a suit against Hamid Al-Ahmer and his only way to stop us would be a recording that proves he did not say what was said in the interview. I will be waiting for your answer with all the faith I have in this newspaper that I grew up reading.

Meanwhile, Marwan Almuraisy tweeted to NYT:

@almuraisy: Dear @nytimes Will you please share us online the audio record of the interview? ‪#Yemen‬

On May 31 Atiaf Alwazir tweeted:

@WomanfromYemen: @nytimes can you plz respond to Hamid Al-Ahmar's allegations of “fabricating his quote” here … ‪#yemen‬

And on June 4 she tweeted again:

@WomanfromYemen: @newyorktimes has not responded to the many inquiries by Yemeni activists regarding a previous article on ‪#Yemen‬ & women.

Sarah Jamal also tweeted on the same day:

@Sarah_Sanaa: ‪#Newyorktimes‬ please respond to ‪#Hamidalahmar‬ claims on misquoting him..

Afrah Nasser tweeted:

@Afrahnasser: @nytimes reputation is on the stake. Hamid al-Ahmer denies what they quote him with. ‪#Yemen‬ ‫#حميد_الأحمر‬

On June 4, a march in Sanaa took place praising the role of Yemeni women, condemning injustice towards women and demanding an apology from Sheikh Hamid Alahmar and a clarification from the New York Times. (Video posted by: ahrartagheer1)

I tweeted the following:

@NoonArabia: We await the audio recording of @nytimes's interview with Sheikh Hamid Al-Ahmar & demand a swift apology from either end. ‪#Women‬ of ‪#Yemen‬

Until the writing of this post the esteemed publication continues to ignore Yemeni activists demand for a clarification.

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

1 comment

  • Thmari7urr

    It is natural from this guy know how many underaged poor women he got marrid to for several months for the sake of their virginity. It is widly knowen in Yemen and anyone who defend this guy is a criminal just like hammed.

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