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Author: Fakhri Al-Arashi
Publisher & Chief Editor
Category: OP-ED, Date July 23rd, 2014

Equal Citizenship in Yemen: lost concept against social discrimination



Najla Alshami

Conflicts arose in the northern provinces of Yemen years ago under many covers, it wasn’t until a while ago that they were revealed to be based on sectarianism. But, that wasn’t the beginning! conflicts and discrimination based on ratios, religious doctrine, race, gender and color is historically rooted at least during the modern history of Yemen.

Now I am not saying that sectarianism is wrong, on the contrary! they are actually people around the world who are proud of their religious and ethnic varieties and are investing this diversity to enrich their countries’ cultures and strengthen its coherence. Of course that only happens in the countries where law rules and equal citizenship is a way of life.

When it comes to Yemen’s society, discrimination based on factions and classes is a special characteristic that has caused inequality and injustice over the years. According to the available references about social groups in Yemen, the Yemeni tribal society, whether in the countryside or the city is divided into two main groups, each consisting offour segments as follows:

* First: the majority class

1 - Judges who are qualified jurists from non Bani Hashim (bani Hashim are alleged to be from Prophet Muhammad’s descent)
2 - Tribal elders in areas where the tribal system is still prevalent.
3 - Tribal people (those with assets of Qahtaniyah indigenous population of Yemen) and noble Aladnanyenwarriors of the population of the Sunni areas.
4 - Merchants, peasants and cultured people
* Second: the minority class (who derive protection from the tribes in which they live)
1 - The Hashemites of the population of the areas subject to the protection of the Zaidi tribes.
2 - Jews and religious minorities of every religious book (there is no mention of Yemen minority Christians)
3 - (Almazaynah), and they are the people with crafts and handicrafts including barbers, butchers, blacksmiths and other craftsmen needed by the community, but despised in an abhorrent duplication .
4 - Marginalized from society known as Al Akhdam (Servants in English translation) who are of African descent
The social system works as simple as this: the 3 first categories from the majority class and the first category from the minority class take it all and leave nothing to the rest! they share the country’s governance, they dominate all life aspects & they wouldn’t allow any kind of transition between classes.
This monopoly has reached the constitutional and legal texts which are only applied into the favor of these dominant category, citizenship is limited to their circle and the political regime 3 authorities are in their service to dedicate the dysfunctional social system they’ve created.
Imagine what its like to be a member in this unfair social system? poverty, oppression and misery are what is generously granted to the most population who hoped when they went out for 2011 protests that their country will be restored from those traditional powers and they were to re-gain their full  rights as citizens.
Until now, equal citizenship remains a beautiful dream that Yemenis will never give up, but it is also remain ink on papers and a bunch of decisions and promises that were made by Yemen’s political and social powers only to gain the international support


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