Written By: Faris Sanabani
Article Date: Nov 1, 2010 - 5:10:33 PM
Proverbs are very common in Yemen. Throughout the years, books of proverbs have been published on subjects such as agriculture and traditional medicine, telling people when to plant, when the rain will come, how to get rid of the flu, and which products will give you immunity and strength, such as honey, coffee, and black beans. But one proverb stands out today: “Mukharib ghalab alaf ammar.” This means, “one destructive person can defeat one thousand builders”. This proverb is very applicable to Yemen today. For every thousand people here working to build the tourism industry, to improve the image of the country, to create jobs, to attract investment, and to reach out to the West seeking friendship, education, and prosperity, all it takes is one terrorist to defeat all these people and their efforts.
At a time when the country is in dire need of the international and business communities’ support to foster job creation, stability, and prosperity, the reality is the opposite. People are afraid of Yemen even though it is not even close to as bad as they imagine. The damage caused by the bad people in Yemen is almost rewarded by the international community. When someone commits a terrorist attack, what do they do? They close the embassies and companies, and people stay away. Scary articles are written and a few hundred so-called “Yemen experts” who have never been to this country pop up to “explain” the situation here. Every time one person does something bad, all Yemenis are punished. People are prevented from coming to the country. Yemenis are prevented from going to other countries. It is collective punishment for a magical country and a hard-working people.
By closing embassies and stifling tourism, you are handing the entire country to the terrorists, creating more sympathizers and angry people. At a time when this country needs help and support, when the majority of the good people of Yemen want to move this country forward, it is the friends of Yemen and the international community, the people who want to see Yemen stable and prosperous, who are punishing it the most. I do acknowledge that the West has an obligation to protect its citizens, but I am sure that together, Yemenis and the West can find an alternative way to do so rather than the collective punishment that is now taking place.
Now is the time to stand with Yemen and show the true colors of friendship, and move away from isolating Yemen as a country, and move towards isolating Yemen's bad apples. The Republic of Yemen as a government and as a people are against these bad apples and should not be punished along with them.
Proverbs are usually directed towards the illiterate in a country like Yemen, but I am using proverbs to address the international community, because I feel that terrorist acts have blinded the eye and the mind of the international community and of the friends of Yemen, and has made them illiterate. ¡
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