Based on conversations with Menna Elkhateeb
When the guys started to shave in Egypt
Somewhen last summer, shortly after President Morsi was gone, I noticed that men with beards started to shave. People were so vehemently against the Muslimbrotherhood and beards as what many believe to be symbols of an increasingly fundamentalist Islam, that men with more hair in the face than a nicely cut five-day-beard feared to be caught and arrested.
Clashes, bombs, kidnappings, al-Qaeada: This is the usual news from Yemen. But other things happen in Yemen as well. There are guys, for example, who collect books to establish mobile libraries. Be it Arabic novels, Shakespeare or scientific literature: Reading enhances the level of education. I spoke to Abdulfattah Alghurbani about his initiative "Yemen Reading Points".
When I happen to be on a mini bus, I keep looking at people walking in the streets of Sanaa and listening to the conversations between the driver and his passengers. I see poor innocent people, who try to make ends meet and still try to smile. And lately I observed an incident that tells a lot.
Hommage to my village Alnuzah
On the roof where I spent last night
Spreading its rays in the air at my sight
Smashing the darkness gently reaching the inns and bushes, coming from height
Throughout my life, I have heard many stories about women who were married at the age of 15 or who were forcefully married. One of my school friends even married someone she had never met and was only allowed to see one black-and-white picture of him (I still don’t know to this day why there were no colors in that picture).
These stories are by no means strange to me as a woman, but I never knew what the other party, i.e. men, thought.
Jahrelang schickte ich Make-up in den Jemen, an eine Frau, die ich noch nie gesehen hatte. Eines Tages reiste ich meinen Paketen hinterher.
The Egyptian-British-Canadian author and scientist Shereen El Feki breaks a taboo: She has written a book about sexuality in the Arab world.
Die Jemenitinnen haben sich aufgemacht, das Gesicht ihres Landes nachhaltig zu verändern. Sie prangern gesellschaftliche Tabus an und fordern politisches Mitspracherecht. Doch ob sich ihr Engagement in politische Mitsprache ummünzen lässt, bleibt ungewiss.
Visiting Yemen these days takes courage - and the will to see beyond the headlines. But doing so, there are treasures to be found: People passionately struggling for a new civil society.
To be frank: For my nerves and above all for those of my family and friends it would have been much better if I had fallen in love with another country than Yemen. With Malaysia, perhaps, with Egypt or at least with Oman. “But why Yemen, for God’s sake?”, have I been asked innumerable times. And when I revealed a couple of weeks ago, that I would travel to Sana’a again, the tone of the question became almost desperate.