Friday, April 29, 2016

I was Awarded Sweden's Pen Holder Prize for 2016

I was awarded Sweden's Pen Holder Prize for 2016, today. The prize was established since the late 80s & is annually awarded for female freelance journalists to support their work & dedication. If I'm not mistaken, I'm one of the first brown women given the award in Sweden, which not only makes me proud but also makes me love Sweden more. My Sweden sees a difference to be an advantage. And, more importantly, my Sweden believes in women's power.
Such recognition for my small & absolutely imperfect work, makes me wanna work harder & harder to continue echoing the voice of my people in Yemen. It's been 5 years for me in Sweden & I've always been thinking on how to dedicate my time & energy for my people, despite the distance (till the time comes when I work from Yemen).
Working with human rights issues is a tough work. You know that things might not get better. And they don't. They go backward, often. Still, what gets me jumping out of my bed every morning is: the love of my life, that's writing.
What would I have done without you, writing? Don't know..
Anyways, tack Sverige!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Takfeer in Yemen

Can't stop thinking about Omar who was killed two days ago by a fanatic religious group because he dared to challenge one of the trio taboos in Yemen (politics, sex and religion). For Omar, it was Allah to be examined. He dared to use his mind and think critically while the lunatics killers didn't have the balls to think, and simply followed ill-hearted rules and decided that Omar's blood was their ticket to heaven. Heaven; Omar would have laughed at that idea. Rest in courage, sweet Omar! You'll always be my hero!

"Politics and the Evolution of Takfeer in Yemen". I'm reposting this in-depth report Sama'a Al-Hamdani & I made few years ago, as we're reminded again by the sensitivity of offending religion with the murder of the 18-years-old Mohammed Omar. Sama'a and I conclude that "mandatory education must be enforced to help individuals make informed decisions. The Yemeni educational system, which is currently being revamped, needs to give equal importance to scientific education (learned knowledge over memorized knowledge). More importantly, the people need to be aware of the influence of religious imperialism from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Egypt and Turkey. When it comes to governance, people need to understand that there are modes of governance other than religious orthodoxy or failed “democracy.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Yemeni accused of atheism murdered

"Around 10pm last Sunday, a young Yemeni called Omar Mohammed Batawil was abducted in front of his home in the Crater district of Aden.

On Monday afternoon, residents in the Sheikh Osman district found his body. He had been shot.

Sources quoted by Almawqea website say Batawil had been receiving death threats and accusations of atheism because of comments "critical of religion" that he had posted on Facebook...." – Al-Baba.

One of late Batawil's facebook posts tackles the existence of Allah: 

Yemen Talks

In a remarkable reversal of al-Qaeda's fortunes, the Yemeni military backed by Saudi and Emirati ground and air support drove al-Qaeda out of the major southern cities over the weekend. The campaign began weeks ago with forces driving east from Aden into Lahj and Abyan, and was joined over the weekend by a massive campaign in the east that rooted al-Qaeda out of Mukulla, where it was firmly entrenched since April 2015. Yemeni forces marching south from the Saudi border prevented al-Qaeda from entering the interior wadi region of Hadramawt and secured key oil facilities and military bases.

Al-Qaeda clearly made a tactical decision to retreat in the face of an overwhelming show of force by the coalition, as it has done in the past only to reappear again, but the rapid retreat of al-Qaeda from the main southern cities is a major victory.

At the peace talks in Kuwait, after an initial delay of three days waiting for the Houthi-Saleh representatives to arrive, the talks have again stalled as little progress has been made. The Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh want an end to the air campaign while Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi wants to focus first on demilitarizing the Houthi militias and removing Houthi forces from the northern cities. On a positive note, the U.N. special representative to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, emphasized that the cease-fire does seem to be gradually taking hold, though fighting and air strikes continue in the Taiz region in particular. Representatives of the two sides remain in Kuwait so further on and off negotiations are expected this week. – Middle East Institute

Monday, April 18, 2016

Co-Speaking With Nawal El Saadawi

Stockholm, winter, 2011 – This is the only picture I have with Dr. Nawal El Saadawi. I made sure to go early to her talk accompanied by my friend, Roya. As we were about to enter the building, Nawal was just arriving as well. Once our eyes faced each other at the gate, I screamed with joy. Wallahi I’m not kidding. I bet Nawal thought I was a crazy young lady. It didn’t matter what she thought about me. For me, I was and still star-struck. Ever since my feminist consciousness came to birth, that’s around 2008, she’s been one of my feminist heroes. I used to watch her, read her and think about her whenever I felt how society treat me in a peculiar way just because I was a female. I remember during my work at Yemen Observer in Sana’a (2009-2011), I used to wait till lunch time when the office gets empty so I can check Nawal on Youtube and watch some of her interviews. Back then, not many Arab TV channels used to host her and not many at my men-dominated office used to leave me alone if it happened that they watch me watching her on my computer, for she has always had provocative issues to rise. Anyhow, I love the internet for helping me & my generation to overcome such obstacles.

Sharing the stage with the legendary feminist writer like Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, later today is insane. Despite that ever since (and about) the Arab Spring, El Saadawi has been embracing ideas that I don’t agree on, speaking with her on Monday would be too good to be true. Can’t wait!

:: ~~|~~ :: where & when the talk will be: Today, Stockholm at Södra teatern at 7.00 pm, for more info see here.