Culture & Society
Written By: Fayad al-Noman & Afrah Nasser
Article Date: Jan 27, 2010 - 12:45:20 PM
Fatima al-Ashby is one of Yemen's prestigious and academic personas of the twentieth century. Her importance lies in her simple and expressive intellectual style demonstrated through her writings. She is a Yemeni researcher, poet, journalist and author, and was recently assigned to be the Sana'a branch President of the Union of Writers and Authors.
Yemen Observer (YO): How do you view literature’s status within Yemen?
Fatima al-Ashby (FA):
Yemeni literature’s status is no less shaken than the political, economical, social and security status in the country. Standards have been mixed. An individual would disagree with plurality and the plurality would disagree within them. Moodiness is what dominates the landscape in Yemen.
YO: What’s your literary view on the state of democracy in Yemen generally?
My view on democracy has two natures. The first is optimistic while the second is pessimistic. That is to say, when we hear the official banners, which touch our feelings with promises, we become elated in the hope of becoming one of the prestigious modern nations, with the accompanying hope that opens horizons of rosy dreams. However, in reality, when the implementation of those banners destroys the surprise’s construction into small pieces of despair, we find ourselves in the rear, which is the final position in the world. This is the modern Yemeni situation. We have found our laws and rights violated. Nevertheless, we have an optimistic view that one day we will practice democracy in a real sense rather than mere banners ready for consumption.
YO: The Social and Labor Matters Office in Sana’a interfered to terminating a disagreement between the elected members for the Union of Writers and Authors, Sana’a branch. How and why did that happen? And for whose advantage did this transpire?
First of all, I’d like to draw the attention to the simple fact that the number of the elected members for the Union’s secretary, Sana’a branch, is five members. They were elected directly to form the administrative staff for the branch. It was supposed to assign the president, the vice and the people who are in charge of the financial issues, cultural issue and administrative issues. All of this was supposed to happen via election or agreement between us, the members.
However, Mr. Mohammed al-Qa’od appointed himself from the start, without election or agreement. There have been three meetings and he’s always been insisting on remaining as the president. We tried to explain the situation to him but he refused to understand the Union’s rules and the systems. During our third meeting, we decided to elect the president and through the majority, which turned out to be three votes against two.
We informed the supervisory committee’s chief, Mr. Mohammed Gharbi Amran about what happened and he told us that this procedure was legal and necessary. Almost one week later, after specifying the missions for each member in the branch, we were surprised to find an announcement in the official newspapers that Mohammed al-Qa’od had been assigned the president of the Union’s branch and that Jamil Mufreh was the vice, along with other names variously assigned for other positions by a regulation from the Ministry of Social Matters, without the knowledge of the majority of the members. This was an action considered against the Union’s laws. Simply put, interfering in the civil organizations’ matters is against the Union’s laws.
YO: How true is what the media excessively talked about on the disagreement over opinions and the distribution of missions between the elected members for the Union’s secretary in Sana’a?
As I earlier mentioned, the majority of the elected members have the right to elect whomever they see suitable for particular positions in the branch. We have done that, according to our convections and what the union laws consist of. What the media discussed was regarded as a violation of the Union’s systems by the Ministry of Social and Labor Matters. Media must not be exclusively focused on one side. It must investigate its information before it is broadcasted or published.
YO: The Media Women’s Forum (MWF) has been working in stimulating women’s roles in syndicates and in the Authors and Writers Union under the umbrella of the quota project. What’s your vision for empowering women in syndicates and unions?
First of all, I’d like to say that a woman is not any less competent than a man, even if she does not have a high education or enlightened awareness or powerful abilities. Women must take their rights, whether we like it or not.
Half of our nation consists of women. Both men and women have the same rights. Nobody must be superior to the other. Regardless of how zigzagged women’s rights are perceived today, women will not leave the issue alone for too long. They will bring out their strength through their determination and persistence for justice and equality principles. The mile long road starts with a single step.
These fledgling syndicates are creating willpower and encouragement for any woman wanting to be a free human being.
YO: Every Yemeni has a great affection for Yemen. What’s your notion or impression of that concept?
My love for Yemen doesn’t need a definition. We are an un-divisible entity. Yemen is the existence that without which I would cease to exist. I’m a tiny part of a much larger love of Yemen.
YO: Where do you see Yemen in 10 years?
Yemen has a future full of surprises, but what’s the nature of these surprises? Only Yemenis will be able to understand if these outcomes are satisfactory or disappointing by nature.
I implore Allah for peace and safety in Yemen.
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