Written By: Fares Anam
Article Date: Jul 8, 2012 - 4:32:53 PM
Three months ago, Saudi Arabia decided to close its embassy in Sana’a after the kidnapping of Abdullah Mohammed Khalifa al-Khalidi, the Saudi Vice-Consul in Aden – south province of Yemen -, by al-Qaida militia in March in al-Mansoura district while he was heading to his office.
Al-Qaida militia demanded the Saudi government to release al-Qaida’s female militants from its prisons in exchange for al-Khalidi. So far the Saudi government has argued that it would negotiate with terrorists Instead the embassy chose to close down its embassy in the capital, Sana’a, saying its reopening was contingent of al-Khalidi’s release.
Ghamdan al-Yousfi, a Yemeni journalist, said that the Saudi Embassy closed its doors three months ago, stressing thousands of visas were now pending, adding that thousands of families had been affected.
“No one feels desperate only those who sold everything they had to get a work visa. Our government did nothing to end this problem,” he said. Angry Yemenis said they felt Saudi Araba was punishing the whole of Yemen for the crimes of a few, highjacking Hajj and Umrah for thousands of people, which raised questions of legitimacy, since Mecca is after all Islam Holy city, not al-Saud property.
“It is a collective punishment for Yemenis who want to practice their right in performing their religious duty. They don’t have the right to stop Yemenis to go to Mecca,” said Abdulrahman Barman, a lawyer. Barman said the Saudi government should punish al-Qaida militia not the Yemeni people.
“Now, the sole beneficiary is al-Qaida because there are big losses in billions of Dollars in tourism and traveling companies in addition to more than 40,000 Yemeni citizens having had their visas expire,” he said. “Al-Qaida is benefiting from this situation because they want to damage the country in any way possible.”
“Yemenis’ resentment is obvious. They don’t have the right to close it even for political reasons and depriving people from going to of al-Hajj and Umrah,” said Bassam Hassan Alwarafi, a translator. Samir al-Nimri, a director and photographer, said “I think it’s a catastrophic mistake committed by the Saudi government against the Yemeni people, it have grave consequences on Yemenis who so far loved and respected the Saudi government and its people.”
Barman added, “it is surprising that Saudi Arabia hosted the donors’ conference of Yemen and contributed by the largest share in the conference and then causes billions of dollars in losses because of the closure of its embassy.
“Mecca is the place of all Muslim and Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam and Muslim should not be prevented from travelling,” he said. Alwarafi said that Yemenis should press though demonstrations and protests in front the Saudi Embassy wearing pilgrim cloths.
Al-Namiri also agreed with alwarafi in continuing public protests against the Saudi government until the end of this catastrophe.
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