Yemenis protest against al Qaeda
In a direct rebuke to the terror group, residents of Taiz held a major protest against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Thursday evening after prayers. Protesters held signs denouncing AQAP that said, “Your racism will do nothing but make us stronger.”
Taiz is the largest city in Yemen, often setting the tone for the six month revolution seeking to overthrow the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh. The goal of the revolution is the establishment of a civil (non-military) democracy with equal rights and opportunities for citizens.
Protesters also denounced al Qaeda’s media statements, including the “Inspire” magazine, which they say distorts western perceptions of Yemen.
Regime change has been opposed by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Both states seek minor cosmetic changes in Yemen’s leadership on the pretext of counter-terror concerns.
Hundreds of thousands on the streets also condemned AQAP’s takeover of Zinjibar in Abyan. In chants, they expressed solidarity with the 90,000 Yemeni citizens who fled from the violence and al Qaeda’s attempted imposition of a Taliban style culture in the city.
Ray News reported that the protesters rejected the state’s slander and use of the al Qaeda “bogeyman” to garner western support and affirmed that Taiz is known as a “city of science and always stands against terrorists and terrorism.”
Protesters also reiterated their demand for a civil state and a transitional council.
Most Yemenis believe that the state colludes with AQAP, a premised based on a decade of state facilitation and leniency with the group. Current events in Abyan also give rise to concerns that al Qaeda is working with the ruling family to ensure its longevity.
In May, security forces attacked the protest camp in Taiz City. Commanded by Yemen’s counter-terror chief, Ahmed Saleh, the president’s son, security forces shot protesters point blank and set fire to the tent city in the early morning hours. Several children and disabled persons were unable to escape the flames and burned to death. The death toll of the massacre was 57 and over 1000 were injured from burns and bullet wounds, Bloomberg reported.
–Jane @ Examiner.com