Transcript: Peacekeeping Development through Education and Transitional Justice in the Middle East

On December 12th, 2013 I had given a speech at an event called “Women for World Peace” by EBADER based in Istanbul, Turkey. Not a detailed speech, but it touched up on certain issues that is key to helping stabilize post conflicted countries after the Arab Spring.
(only 15 minutes to talk)

| Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to be speaking in front of you all today, in an event that is attended by individuals that believe in changing the world to a much more safer, peaceful environment for all.

Now, I’m sure many of you have been keeping an eye on the news and all that is happening around the world. One of the most important regions, I believe, is the Middle East. What happens in the Middle East, will not only effect those in the region but also everyone else in the world. We have to understand that the Middle East is the center of all global affairs. Therefore making this region more of an importance to find solutions to its current obstacles and difficulties.

Not too long ago, there was a surprising movement that no one would of thought would ever take place in the MENA region. That is what is know as the “Arab Spring”. It took one person to start a significant movement across this great region. I say with a heavy heart, it started with a man who set himself on fire in Tunisia. This action done in Tunisia not only sparked a movement of people but it revealed the severity of issues such as corruption, injustices and even unemployment. After two weeks, their president (who is now the former president), Ben Ali, stepped down.

Little did we know, this movement became a domino effect to other countries like Egypt, Syria, Yemen and even Bahrain. Unfortunately, Syria at the moment is rubble due to a civil war that the country is currently in. Egypt, too, is suffering from a military rule that is not only hurting the way of life for Egyptians, but is dimming hope for a real government. Yemen, on a more personal note is my homeland. I remember coming home from my high school, as a junior, watching a CNN live feed of a massive peaceful protest in the capital city of Sanaa – I had watched in shock. The reason why I was shocked was because I thought we would end up in a civil war just like what we have seen in Syria. See, ladies and gentlemen, Yemen holds around 72 million pieces of guns; which is around three times the size of the population. Thankfully, we chose the peaceful route, and will always remain peaceful. What makes Yemen more of a unique country is that the women were on the front lines of protests. Coming from a conservative country, this was a very controversial action done by our women. But despite its controversy, they continued to be the important role that Yemen needed to break its barriers on conservatism and activism. Since that live feed, in early 2011, I have flown to Yemen more than 7 times, observing the negative and positive changes in the county that is effecting necessary further change towards a peaceful, democratic state.
I’m more than proud as a Yemeni woman to see my own people, hand in hand, go against a three decade tyrant that no one would of dared speak up against during the past. But like the other countries that had been claimed by the Arab Spring, Yemen, too, is dealing with obstacles that is hurting its road to stability.

Since the Arab Spring movement, I have observed the failed steps that countries aren’t implementing to help end their current political turmoil. Three most important steps for transitional justice are, for instance:

ICC: International Criminal Court. This court is there for a reason and its reason is to prosecute criminals, as high leveled as government officials, for any types of abuses. This is a crucial and needed step to actually move forward in countries that have dealt with any type of conflict. It can help give closure, for example, to those who have been effected by such criminals, while giving new hope about law and punishment in countries that need stability and peace.

INSTITUTIONAL REFORM: It seems like the Middle Eastern government like skipping the ICC, to only dive into institutional reform. I find that astonishing. It’s unfortunate that after the acclaimed Arab Spring countries, many governments still hold almost the same individuals that were there in the past. There was no significant change that was needed to start a country from the start, with the needed and necessary moves to establish new governments in the regions. What we need is new individuals who can take responsibility of their country and their citizens to establish the path to democracy. We aren’t going to see new changes unless we get rid of the old regimes and elect new faces in the country. Let’s not forget that the goal in the Arab spring was “change”.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES: To be quiet frank, the Middle East is no stranger to human rights abuses. It’s something that happens on a daily basis, even after the revolutions took place. To tackle these abuses, its critical to form investigative committees that will investigate minor and major abuses done by the centralized and/or local governments. Once reports and evidence is given, they must take this action to a higher court in the country or, if necessary, to the ICC. That way, judicial consequences are taken place against those individuals. It will also set an example to anyone else who will likely abuse human rights in their country. This team will result in the outcome of positivity in the country because citizens will then learn to trust and respect the government and be an example to other neighboring countries: with every law broken, no matter who you are, there are consequences. In other words, no one is above the law.

While we know that a new set of governments, law and order, should be implemented in post conflicted countries, it’s as important and if not, more important to educate people, young or old. Middle East is unfortunately not the finest in education. I did not expect any type of educational reform in a region where countries and even their own citizens do not take education as an important universal human right. Little do they know, that education is the new pave way for a brighter future for the generations to come. This is a crucial and strategical point to discuss because education will promote economic development and even equality between both the male and female genders. In fact, if we don’t consider education important in the lives of people, than all the hard work that many have fought for since 2011, will not develop into the changes they want to see. Statistically speaking, the Middle East has a good percentage number of enrollment in schools in the Arab World for primary, secondary schooling but declines after. But in my opinion, I always believe the saying, “Quality over quantity.” And that’s exactly what is the lacking factor in the Arab World. It’s not the enrollment, but rather the quality of the education given. The only way to change a society is not fundamentally through politics, but rather through education. It’s key to development and until we take the quality of education seriously in the Middle East than all our aspiration to change will not succeed.

I hope with these points we will understand the issues in this great region and we will solve them, one step at a time, to see the Middle East flourish to its full potential. The people in this region have been through many conflicts that has effected their daily lives. I believe there is high hopes, especially with the youth. They are the leaders of tomorrow and they need our help to give them that support system to create a beautiful and stable future that we need.

As the late Nelson Mandela once said, “Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.”

Thank you very much.


Yemen: Emotional Resentment (Sociological Perspective)

Yemen has been going through a whole lot for the past three decades, leading to an unfortunate rise in emotional resentment in regards to politics in the region.

The famous South vs. North of Yemen is in the air and I can safely say its increasing. Since I’m southern, I can speak on my “sides” behalf (as southerners say). One must admit that anger, frustration and even rage is taking over the mindset of the people in the southern region. Emotions can make many situation meaningful, but it can also make some situations ugly. I believe people are changing the Herak movement in a sense where it’s only projecting resentment. Do I blame them? Not at all. In fact, it’s possible when it comes to a movement so close to people. Sadly, I think this resentment that has settled in their mindset at the moment is what’s damaging our southern provinces and people, societally and also mentally.

Many southern people will disagree and say its not resentment, but that’s the usual answer I get and will always get. But here’s my theory on this: Emotions can sometimes blind you in a way where you don’t realize the wrongs and rights of what you are aiming or wanting for. Anger, frustration and dislike leads to hate/discrimination. I’m not sure if you take this seriously, but I surely do. Discrimination not only ruins a society for one generation, but rather, it passes on from generation to generation. Some may disagree and consider this debatable by explaining this type of situation in Yemen is prejudice issues – but at the end of the day, it still looks down upon certain groups, individuals and even opinions.

I don’t want to write about the political history of Yemen before 1994 or even after that unification year just because we all know what happened. I’m going to discuss the issues undergoing the sociological system in the southern and northern region: Discriminatory. Believe it or not, It’s in the northern region too, but it may be just lighter in terms of resentment. I’ll also touch on whats called, “Conflict Theory” in a sociological perspective.

You may want to ask yourself why I defined the sociological system in the region as ‘discriminatory”. If you think about it for a few minutes, you can ask yourself as southerners or northerners (as long as you are a human at this point) why has discrimination increased in Yemen? See, we have intertwined our world politically that we can’t sense what we are teaching the people around us: What to hate and who to hate. Southerners, because you have been victimized by a horrendous government and main tribal shiekhs who are also intertwined in the government, in Sanaa*, you ‘dislike’ Northerners. Now, Northerners, a few people I have crossed paths with believe that we have been saved by your side of Yemen when unification was officially announced. Others see that the hate by southern Yemenis towards your side of Yemen is unfair, in which you automatically dislike southerners because its either you don’t understand why they are upset or because you just don’t like it. This absolutely doesn’t go to everyone on both sides. It depends on how you view and choose your stance politically. There are people who just love peace and want Yemenis to be happy (like myself) who defend what is right and just but do not support discrimination.

I’m going to give you TWO examples that I have been through in both Sanaa and Aden when it comes to discrimination:

1) Four months ago in Sanaa, I sat down in a taxi and I explained to him I would like to go to Bab Al-Yemen. He right away said, “Sure no problem sister”. About five minutes later, he asked me where I was from? I replied back saying, “I’m from Yafae”. One minute later, he had said that he couldn’t take me to Bab Al-Yemen because he had promised his friend that he would meet up for lunch. The excuse made me laugh a little and I said, “Don’t worry about it. I will find someone else or I will rent a car. Have a good lunch with your friend.” As I stepped out of the cab, I didn’t know where I was but I had taken a moment to think about this situation and laughed it off because I knew why he most likely let me go out of the cab. That’s ok, I found another cab driver and went about my day in Bab Al-Yemen.

2) Three months ago in Aden, I decided to drive my car to Al-Mansoora during the early morning of July 7th, which is a main day for southerners because this was the day when Aden was captured by the north (during civil war ’94). During which, civil disobedience was taking place. I was watching Aden Live (known to be pro-separation) before I stepped out to see what the situation outside of the walls of my home were like. While driving to Al-mansoora’s famous street, also known as “Jail St (Shara’e Al-Sijn), I parked my car and turned off my engine. My car windows were tinted and had a Sanaa #2 license plate. I wanted to see what would happen if someone sees my license plate. I gave myself 15 minutes to park before heading out back home and within 10 minutes, I have seen a young guy look at my car suspiciously, as if something was wrong with it. While I look back at him from the side and rearview mirrors, I suddenly hear a thumping noise on my car tires. I waited for him to finish up the testing of my good tires and then I start to realize he wants to then slash them. This is when I turn on my car and lower my window and look at him saying, “Hey, how are you? Is there something wrong with my tires?” He looked at me shockingly and said, “No, actually they are in good shape!” I gave him a smile and explained that it’s not right to do such actions because you think I’m from Sanaa, nor was it ok for you to do it on any northerner. Further, I had explained that I was actually from Yafae and he was surprised. I continued, “You shouldn’t judge by a license plate and you shouldn’t hurt anyone or their belongings because many of us, both northern and southern people, have no tie to the government or the Al-Ahmars. He walked away nodding.


Sociologically speaking, media plays a role on this ongoing problem in Yemen. It’s an easy tool to make people think a certain way. Two perfect examples would be Yemen TV and Aden Live channel; two total different agendas as you can imagine. That being said, it attracts two different groups. Thus, separating people by two different ideologies and opinions to make you more or less emotional towards a situation or group. The other main influence of discrimination in Yemen would be by family members, friends and even the community you are living in. It’s all about location, location and location! At the end of the day, it’s what you hear and how many times you hear it. Let’s be logical here and ask ourselves would a 6 year old really have an opinion on unity or separation? What about an 8 year old in regards to who she likes or hates in the government and even in general, if she likes the government or not. Parents usually explain to their kids their OWN opinion and it settles in their childrens head, making them believe something they aren’t even capable of having an opinion on. Take for example when you see very young kids at a pro-Yemeni government rally and an anti-government rally. This also is implemented on pro-separation rallies and conferences – when we see young children attending, repeating chants against the northern people. This automatically fosters and influences hate at a young age, when they shouldn’t even be thinking like this in the first place. I believe that these factors are the most influential in Yemen at the moment.

Lastly, there’s a term called “Conflict Theory” in the sociological world. This just simply means a theory of social order (controlling) on groups of people or a society as a whole because of fear that the ‘superiority’ may lose its powers. If we implement it in a country, generally, the government is the superiority power. Yemen’s  government fears losing its powers if the people have it their way. For instance, the Yemeni government might believe that if the southern provinces are independent from the North, they will lose power in both the South and the North as well. It’s a fear of losing a sense of control over how their country runs. This type of perspective fits perfectly to the political, economical and social sectors of the country. Our government really has a tight grip on politics, whether you are in favor of the GPC or the JMP parties. Without a doubt, the government even has a tighter grip on economy just because there is a lot of corruption and they would rather have their own grip on corruption than a free, fair market. The clever part about how the politicians play the role of conflict theory socially is by letting each group fight each other off and then they try and make their image clean by supporting and finding solutions for the group, whether the Heraki movement or the revolutionary movement, without decreasing their own powers on both ends.

Solution to helping a society grow in a positive way is to help through educating people. As Yemenis, we should not let our emotions try to damage our mindset on our own people. First is to realize that all this dislike is considered baggage from years of a corrupted government and system. Such prejudice will eventually reach a tipping point one day that will hurt all of us. To help ourselves, we must learn to sit down with each other and accept to talk through communicative dialogue, understanding everyones point of view and going forth on accepting the issues that brought us together in the first place. It’s not too difficult to lessen and even eliminate discrimination within our borders. Let’s try to put aside our emotions when talking about politics and instead use logic. Remember that you can never find a solution to any of your problems when you are going through resentment. Even if you do, it will most likely be the wrong decision. As the saying goes, “Do not make decisions when you are angry.”


Just my thoughts on this topic through a simple sociological breakdown that I feel is the reason why we are where we are today. All my writings and opinions are based on my observances and experiences in Yemen.


Yemeni Minister of Immigrant Affairs Holds Event in NYC

Yemen Min 2

                               Yemeni Minister of Immigrant Affairs (second from left)


Majahed Al-Qahali, Yemeni Minister of Immigrant Affairs, held an event for the Yemeni community yesterday, October 5th of 2013. The main purpose for this event was to have a dialogue with the Minister and other panel guests in regards to concerns, questions and/or complaints that many Yemenis abroad want answered and discussed.

The event started with a speech from Al-Qahali, who touched upon the general events unfolding in Yemen, such as the National Dialogue and supposed elections. After his closing statement, the attendees were given a short break before questioning started. Not shockingly enough, there has been a trend at some protests and events where special guests and/or attendees randomly start dancing  a Yemeni dance. For this event, the Minister and other men danced a Adeni dance (from what they have claimed it was). A quick dance was over and the serious questioning had began.

As I expected, questions that were asked by the community were detailed and straightforward. Over 12 long questions were asked and discussed lightly by the attendees. Topics of questions included, but not limited to: the National Dialogue and its neglect to Yemenis abroad, voting eligibility for those abroad, Yemenis in Ethiopian jails without charge, Saudi Arabia and its treatment towards Yemenis, passport issues, Yemeni citizens and cases of US passport being taken by US Embassy and poor outreach to Yemeni community by higher officials, Yemeni consulates.

All questions were superb and deserve a long and loud applause because these issues are of concern. I noticed that the most repetitive questions asked were regarding Yemenis living in Saudi Arabia. Many have voiced serious concern and support to those who are struggling to live in decency and dignity in Saudi Arabia. I have concluded that many really worry about this situation and want answers by both the Yemeni and Saudi governments. We all want answers now. In regards to Saudi Arabia and Yemenis in that region, the Minister had explained that, “The problem is not Saudi Arabia. The problem is from us (Yemen). But it will take a lot of people for this case to be helped.” That direct answer can be debatable, depending on how each individual feels about this aching subject.

Going on, the Minister had answered my question in regards to why the Yemeni community abroad were not notified about National Dialogue participation. Since we do have a big share in economic development and investment in Yemen, why weren’t we as important – neglected? Also, I stated the issue of bad outreach and who the panel members and the minister himself outreached to for this important event? Unfortunately, the answer was plainly short and was not answered fully: “I had given names in folder(s) to the government, and other ND board members, but the rest was up to them […] there are laws to abide by.” But I give him props for being speech-savvy.

Going on with answering  the rest of the questions, Al-Qahali touches upon Yemenis in Ethiopia who are in prisons without charge, stating,  “We need a large foundation. Big organizations, a lot of support and effort from those in the United States to help those there.”

Lastly, in regards to passport issues whether US passports being taken away or visa issues, Al-Qahali asked the crowd, “Have any of you wrote to me about this? Gave me names and basic information of those who are having any issues? (Pause) Now, let’s start by writing to me with names, problems and I will personally work on this issue, but you must give me some time to do so.”

Al-Qahali emphasized that the power we (Yemenis abroad) have, can shake Yemen instantly. He recommended that, “Dialogue should be started by us (in the US). We started in Sanaa, you can start in New York; goals, discussions.” Furthermore, he believes Yemenis abroad have the advantage of helping our people in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and even in Yemen. That being said, Al-Qahali asked we organize ourselves to help the problems all Yemenis are facing, whether inside Yemen’s borders or out.

Again, I give him props for being speech-savvy in the Arabic language. But I had hoped for some dual language talent! After a good three hours, we closed the event by standing for the Yemeni National Anthem.

My thoughts on Syria

My thoughts on Syria at 2 AM in Yemen without electricity….

Syrian revolution has now become a civil war after two and half years.

Recently, on August 21st, Chemical Weapons were used on the people of Syria. By the numbers given to us by Sec. John Kerry, around 1,429 people were killed from this horrendous act. Western powers, including most of Syria’s neighbors claim that the Assad regime is responsible for this crime. Since August 21st, the US and UK brought up a case of military intervention in Syria to help “deter” the Assad regime. The United Kingdom has had their debate and vote at the House of Commons, which then resulted in not supporting military intervention in Syria. While the US is still pushing for intervention, it’s up to the Congress to debate and vote for a ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ on intervention. While that continues to happen, here are my thoughts on the supposed military action in the region:

As an American, I am war-weary and I truly believe that there is no real, guaranteed strategy that will help Syrians against Assad through intervention. “Limited, narrow strikes” MAY (which i personally doubt) help “deter” Assad regime but the KEY question is: What will happen after those limited strike(s)? Will it hurt our allies if we do strike? Of course. Will our stance on the importance of international laws be taken less ‘serious’ if we do not strike? Absolutely. We are in a loophole that we dug for ourselves, my friends.

Unfortunately, the White House is portraying a case which is failing to convince me and the others in the US. Sure our “reputation” is on the line but the innocent people that we will hurt at the end will only destroy our image more, esp after Iraq.

Those who are against intervention simply understand that what the US means by a small action will eventually turn into a full-scale war in the very near future. This full fledge intervention will lead to the deterioration of the Middle East. We know by striking Syria, it will lead to more casualties to save the rest in the country – if we actually do save them. Again, nothing guaranteed under the case by administration at the White House.

Yes, we do condemn the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Yes, we clearly sympathize for the people of Syria and condemn the killings of innocent people standing for their freedom. That doesn’t mean those who are against the military intervention on Syria are with the Assad regime and/or are OK with the killings of innocent people. It means we know that the region will face permanent instability.

There are three players in this situation: Assad and his regime, Free Syrian Army (rebels) and Al-Qaeda militants (Al-Nusra). What we have now is a hijacked Syrian revolution, which has become a complete mess. Would our potential strike make the FSA stronger and weaken both the militants and the regime? How can we be so sure that would happen? Commonly known, AQAP like to work in messy situations- seeking it as an opportunity to reach their goals by creating chaos.

To be clear, Syria is politically and geographically strategic, especially for the United States. Our eye is really on Iran, North Korea, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Russia and China. Top two most important countries for the US at the moment would be Iran and Lebanon (Hezbollah). Hezbollah being a terrorist group under US terms and Iran as a potential country that may (or may not) have nuclear weapons with its advanced nuclear program.

If we do potentially strike Syria, it can trigger a fired strike from Hezbollah on Israel, a very close US ally. While I’m quiet sure Israel will strike back, Iran may see it as an opportunity in targeting Israel as well. Russia on the other hand will support Syria with arms and possibly militarily as well. At this point, no one knows who will strike who but we all know it can lead to a complete mess between countries against or with Syria’s Assad. All have the complete right to defend their country’s security.

I’m not in favor of a military intervention on Syria. I’m in favor of a dialogue between Western, Gulf-backed Syrian rebels and the Syrian government. If there’s no dialogue, the “weakened” Assad government will continue to strike rebels and rebels will continue to fire back with arms that they have.

Truly tricky situation that the whole world is watching play out. It’s just heartbreaking to know that innocent people who intentionally started out clean and peaceful, ended up with a hijacked revolution for the interests of countries like the United States and Saudi Arabia.

May those who have died in Syria rest in peace. May those who have fled to neighboring countries find some inner peace and stability and may those who are still in Syria be fearless in what is yet to come in the upcoming weeks, months and years. Beautiful Syria is and will forever be damaged.

Would the Martyrs of Yemen Agree?

Two weeks ago, I stopped all of what I was doing for 20 minutes to sit and reflect on all that has happened in Yemen since the revolution in 2011. I thought to myself, “What were some positive outcomes?” I put the positive thoughts in my mind first to try to feel better about the current situation in the country: less fearful, more demanding, valued as an individual and empowerment. These are all great outcomes.

Why haven’t I said “Ali Abdullah Saleh’s fall” as an outcome? Pretty simple: it was partially successful.

Has anyone thought about those who were killed by our government recently? If you have, that’s good. If you haven’t, ask yourself why? Every time I think of the uprising, I get flashbacks of all those individuals that put their lives first for a better life for their brothers and sisters. It’s not something simple to do- especially since most of the martyrs were youth. I’m sure you all remember empowering scenes of protesters bravely stepping forward to soldiers and/or tanks not giving a damn about what will happen to them next. They just did it because they felt it was right. They thought If this is the cost of freedom and value of ones self, it is worth it to stand up and go forward against the oppressor. Do you blame them for making such a bold move? I don’t.

But what happens next in Yemen’s chapter? The National Dialogue:

The greatly appreciated savior of events to create “stability” for Yemen. By the way, I say this with full sarcasm. Basically, the National Dialogue is a 6 month long event that will either break or make Yemen. It’s a dialogue with the government, representatives of political parties, youth (women and men) and movements in the region. The amount of funding to support this dialogue is roughly about $30 million dollars.

So here we have a bunch of individuals who aren’t fond with each other, discussing an important political transition and how the country can move forward in a peaceful, successful manner. Supposedly, the Yemeni government believes that it will be a success because there is NO ‘Plan B’ just incase it were to fail.

This raises concern. No plan b? Why? What makes everyone so sure that it will be a success, especially since our nation is unstable and isn’t in its best shape, at least security wise. Can we afford another round of bloodshed if this event were to fail? Not at all. Therefore, if our government cares and understands that the result is a 50/50 chance of success/failure, there should be another plan. The reason why is to prevent any devastating outcomes in the near future (if anything were to happen).

Let’s talk money. $30 million dollars is a heck of an amount of money. Yes, a stipend should be given to all those who are participating because they are taking a big responsibility, but paychecks aren’t really necessary. Why, you ask? Well, how are we so sure that this dialogue will be for six months? What if something were to happen, security wise, that may stop it? Say 5 million is given for the first month; chaos happens. Then the question arises, “What’s going to happen to the rest of the 25 million dollars?” Yes, I’m aware that some money may go to bump up the security, but still, it’s 30 million. Are there any public documents of some sort on where this money will go exactly?

As an activist who has been to Yemen during the revolution multiple times, I understand that the martyrs are symbolic for protesters to keep going and push for a change in the country.  I, too, respect those individuals who have gave their lives to a cause that we all deem to be important. Would the martyrs approve of the youth participating in a dialogue with political elites that have blood on their hands? Would you sit down with murderers and shake their hands to discuss an uncertain outcome? A few people will say, “Well, we have no other choice.” Yes, that may be true, but that choice isn’t guaranteed a positive result. Give it a shot, but the cost may be the lives of innocent people in the middle of a political war. Hence, why I emphasize the importance of a plan B.

Yes I criticizes a lot, but it’s not for fun and it kills my energy to do so. I criticize because I care about the country I come from. I would love to talk about great achievements done by the government but until that happens, you won’t see so much ‘achievement’ blogposts.

Hope for the best but expect the worst.

Austrian Hostage Pleas Government of Austria and Yemen to Abide by Demands of Kidnappers

On December 21st, of 2012, one Austrian and two Finish foreigners were kidnapped in the capital of Yemen. All three were in Yemen to learn the Arabic language and unfortunately, due to insatiability in a region where the Arab Spring claimed, foreign kidnaping were increasing. The latest hostages were victim to a tribal kidnapping and as our day to day lives continue, there are three individuals in Yemen who are in a ‘live or die’ situation in the hands of tribal men.

The ransom that the tribal men are asking for is unknown, but Dominik Neubauer, the kidnapped Austrian pleas for the Yemeni government and the Austrian government to abide by the requests of the Yemeni tribe. Tears were running down his cheek showing distress while a gun was pointing to his head. The date of the video posting was on Feb. 21, 2013. In the video, Dominik Neubauer explains that they will kill him 7 days after the posting if they do not give the tribe what they are asking for, which is some money. Here is the video:

As I watched this heartbreaking video, I wondered how his family reacted when they saw the video. What were their thoughts at that exact moment when seeing their son at gun point. On Wednesday following that Monday post of his plea on Youtube, the hostage’s family responded to his video:

Notice how the hostage’s mother respectively wears a scarf around her head. She says in the video that her son, “respects and honors the culture of your country.”

We hope for the safety of the Austrian hostage. He and his family are in our prayers.

The loss of a child due to celebratory shootings.

Two days ago, a friend on Facebook tagged me in a photo… this photo showed the image of a little toddler in the ICU of a hospital in Taiz, Yemen. Her name was Abeer.

Abeer and her mother were walking to a market next to a wedding when the unexpected happened: a gunshot wounded the child. In Yemen and many other countries, there is something called “celebratory shootings.” Celebratory shootings are basically gunshots fired in the air to celebrate an event and in this case, a wedding. Two days ago, she was struggling to survive. Today, I’ve received news by my friend on Facebook that she has passed away and was buried.

There are many cases in Yemen where people have been wounded and sometimes killed by celebratory shootings. It seems that it’s a careless act because on a day of happiness, sometimes someone loses theirs-just like Abeer’s family. Instead of a couple starting off their lives with happiness, they start off with guilt and worry when cases like these happen.

Personally speaking, I am against celebratory shootings and Abeer’s (may she rest in peace) picture shows exactly why. Today, a mother and father lost their little angle. Today, they bury her. Since there isn’t any law against celebratory shootings and we know that to do such an act is part of our culture; we should always remember what may happen: a bad ending, a tragedy.

Next time, before starting to shoot in the air. Think about the damage you can do to a family.

May she rest in peace and may God give her family strength and patience.