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Racial Discrimination in Yemen Legal Treatment

Sawt Al-Amal (Voice of Hope) – Mona Al-Assaadi

In Yemen, a culture of marginalization and discrimination is taking root, contrary to the equal sense of creation for all human beings as many community groups suffer from racial and class discrimination. Hence, the Blacks category is the most marginalized; It suffers from discrimination and racism which made it down the social ladder.

Islam is the religion of truth, the Quran brought forth verses that affirm the achievement of justice (the principle of justice and equality) among human beings and even fought against all forms of discrimination and racism, and brought the necessary solutions to obliterate them.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Darsi, Professor of Islamic Studies, at Arhab University, says to Sawt Al-Amal (Voice of Hope) that the Islamic religion addressed the problem of racism and marginalization in the best way and took excellent steps to advocate these marginalized and vulnerable groups in the society. It distinguished from other religions such as Judaism and Christianity which did not pay much attention to this issue, and among these treatments are the following: it greatly cared for the interest of these groups, required zakat[1] and charity for them as a source of strength that would prevent them from demand and need. It also exempted them from Hajj[2], which is one of the pillars of Islam.

Dr. Muhammad Al-Makhzi, Professor of Jurisprudence of Transactions at the University of Sana’a, agrees with him, so he says to Sawt Al-Amal (Voice of Hope) that the Islamic religion was clear and explicit on the issue of discrimination… it did not differentiate between Black and White except by piety. Islam has granted victory to the oppressed and commanded it and he inferred that is, according to the hadith[3] of the Messenger of God {you are […] helped through your weaklings}.

Has Yemeni Laws Marginalized Blacks?
In society, it is assumed that there are no marginalized groups (citizens from the second level), as everyone should be equal in rights and duties. According to the constitution, which is considered a social contract between the state and society, it states (in Article 24 of the Yemeni Constitution) that “the state guarantees equal opportunities for all citizens: politically, economically, socially and culturally, and it issues laws to achieve this,” which means equal opportunities, non-negative discrimination, but rather, the marginalized groups must be afforded more rights in proportion to their status in order to achieve the principle of justice and equality for all. Unfortunately, no laws have been enacted and endorsed to address marginalization in the Yemeni society, and this constitution has remained a dead letter!

S.A, 23 years old, is one of the marginalized who have been subjected to violence more than once, but did not dare – in any of them – to file a complaint against his assailants; being one of the “richest” – according to his description and he says, while recalling what happened to him: “ No matter how attacked and beaten I was, I could not file a complaint because being a servant, no one will ever do you justice, even if you file it while dripping in blood”.

Despite all the human rights violations that happen to the marginalized, and in the absence of Yemeni laws that protect this vulnerable group, they still don’t get fair.

Lawyer Abdul Al-Rahman Al-Zabib says: With regard to marginalization, there is a positive experience for southern Yemen: There were binding laws, and were applied, including the imposition of penalties and financial fines on anyone who used verbal abuse against this group and it was granted absolutely priority to anyone who belongs to the marginalized; therefore, a large group of them were educated people and doctors.

He confirms to Sawt Al-Amal (Voice of Hope) that this positive discrimination that occurred tore apart the marginalization completely during that period but after the formation of a committee to harmonize legislation between the south and the north, the southern legal system was completely abolished and the northern legal system was adopted, and paid little attention to the marginalized.

The National Dialogue and the Marginalized:
Yemeni political roles reflect a significant marginalization of this group. Since we do not find them a representative in any of them, not even in Parliament and here we can ask: If the owner of the right is absent, who will claim it?

Despite the participation of Numan Al-Hudhaifi, President of the National Union of the Marginalized, in the National Dialogue Conference, where one of its outputs was the allocation of 10% of government jobs to the marginalized, but nothing has yet been accomplished. According to the legal experts, the outputs of the National Dialogue are parallel to the constitution as a new social contract for the Republic of Yemen, and a constitution that is subject to its outcomes must be issued.

Societal marginalization resulting from the accumulation of marginalization and exclusion, over the past long years cannot be addressed except by positive and fair discrimination for a group that has suffered from injustice and unfairness for many years, as well as their psychological and scientific rehabilitation, so that it raises the level of this marginalized group to become parallel to the rest of the citizens, and enjoy – according to the constitution – equal citizenship with all parties in order to remove the previous marginalization, because neglecting this group more, may lead to unplanned negative consequences. Al-Zebeeb asserts that if this marginalization is not addressed legally and socially, then we will be on a date with human mines that will destroy the future.

[1] It is a form of almsgiving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax, which, by Quranic ranking, is next after prayer in importance.

[2] It is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime.

[3] It refers to what the majority of Muslims believe to be a record of the words, actions and the silent approval of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

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