Source: Toronto Star, By Ali Al-Muqri, 13/03/2011
Ali Al-Muqri is a journalist from Yemen and author of eight books, including two novels.
When a Marxist friend invited me to join him for Friday prayers at the square in Sanaa that has been renamed “Change Square,” that meant the revolution had reached its full power and needed only God himself to stand behind it.
So I did not argue with my friend about his sudden piety or his insistence on taking his friends to heaven with him. “This is the revolution of the oppressed people and we must arm ourselves with every weapon in order to win,” I said to my friend.
Before I could say another word, he jumped in: “What is wrong with praying five times a day so long as it makes our Islamic friends happy and leads to the overthrow of this stupid system?”
“But why don’t they conform to your ways?” I asked him.
“They outnumber us and are better equipped than we are,” he replied.
I then stood at a distance and watched my atheist friend as he prayed wholeheartedly to Allah.
In Yemen, revolution has become as vital as air and water, even if the only reason may be the fact that people are tired of seeing the picture of their president for 32 years. We have always thought we would wake up one day and find him taking up half of our bed.
In the history of Yemen, fundamentalist Muslims and Marxists have never been united before now. This is a common search for freedom, I keep saying to myself. Revolution has become inevitable, for that is what people want.
Islamists cry a famous line from a Tunisian poet that goes, “If a people should one day decide to live, fate must also answer their call.” They do not try to endlessly interpret this line as they inevitably would with any other text. Isn’t this the first wonderful sign of change coming with this revolution?
We have no time for differences. The corruption and the autocratic rule of our president, his family, his close relatives and members of his tribe leave no space for compromise. The president says he will not pass on the presidency to his son or seek another term, yet he insists on ruling until 2013 in order to complete 35 years of rule.
But people are fed up with election boxes that bring back no name other than that of Ali Abdullah Saleh, and they fear that if he stays two more years he will make sure to groom another copy of himself to take power.
The Egyptians did not let Mubarak stay another eight months. Why should the people of Yemen let Saleh stay for two more years? We are all united to bring an end to our exclusion from social and political life. Some protesters dream of an Islamic caliphate, while the socialists believe they can achieve social justice. Others hope this revolution is the beginning of an Arab unity.
The majority believe this is a transitional stage leading to parliamentary and presidential elections that can eventually bring about democracy and public participation.
The conflict between the old and new generations certainly will not die down now that the storm has started. It is a storm people can no longer live without. People are not afraid of the future, because it is not going to be any worse.
Translated by Ayub Nuri.
Ali Al-Muqri is a journalist and author in Yemen. He has published eight books, two of them the novels Black Taste ... Black Smell and The Handsome Jew