Tawakul Karman, Yemen mother of 3, among winners of Nobel Peace Prize

One of the three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year is Tawakul Karman, 32, a Yemeni activist and mother of 3.

Aljazeera has an interview with her in English about how she carries on demanding democracy in Yemen in the face of threats to herself and her family.

For videos of her leading women’s protests, see Global Voices.

Her prize was lauded enthusiastically by democracy protesters in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. She was gracious in return, dedicating the prize to all those who have worded for freedoms in the Arab world, especially those who have been imprisoned.

She also said that the prize honored the entire Yemen people, whose peaceful protests had stunned the world.

The Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh has a somewhat catty article alleging that in recent weeks the other protest leaders had fallen out with Karman because of what it terms her dictatorial style. It admits that they were nevertheless ecstatic to see her get the prize, since they see it as a sign that their reform movement is supported by the outside world.

The BBC showed her lionized by thousands of protesters in Sanaa’s Change Square on Saturday night.

Karman is a member of the Islah Party, which is made up of a number of competing factions, but it has a general orientation to a moderate Muslim fundamentalism. It was previously allied with Saleh, and he allowed it to do well in elections, but the party has now broken with the president. She has campaigned to raise the age of marriage for girls in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, pledged again to step down on Saturday. Few take him seriously, since he has pulled this ‘buying time’ stunt before and never followed through.

Posted in Yemen | 4 Responses | Print |

4 Responses

  1. I am under the impression that Prez Saleh has consistently promised to not run in the elections in 2013.
    When he first made the promise, he surely planned to have a son step in and take over.
    But he seems to be keeping to that commitment.

    I don’t know that Yemeni elections are free and fair, but they come closer to legitimacy deriving from the consent of the governed than in any GCC state.

    I would guess that the US CIA has offered Saleh tens of millions of dollars to step down.
    That signals to skeptics that we think we know who is going to be the new leader in Yemen, and we think we have co-opted him.
    The folks running the USA do not trust free and fair elections in Yemen any more than they trust them at home.

    ….. …..

    On a related note, I am under the impression that Yemeni public opinion toward the USA is shaped to a large degree by the detention of 60+ Yemeni men at Guantanamo who we know to be innocent.
    Most of these men were “CLEARED FOR RELEASE” under G W Bush, more than 4 years ago, but they are now entering their tenth year in unlawful, indefinite detention.

    What say you, community ?
    Any truth in this ?

  2. “Karman is a member of the Islah Party, which is made up of a number of competing factions, but it has a general orientation to a moderate Muslim fundamentalism.”

    It is indeed heartening to see a woman in the vanguard of protests supporting Arab transition, especially in Yemen. (I prefer the term “transition” to “Spring,” since we don’t know what the ultimate result will be in these countries. If the result ultimately turns out truly moderate and democratic, “Spring” will have been justified. If not, then not.)

    I have a question for you, Professor Cole. How do you define “moderate Muslim fundamentalism,” cited in the quote above from your post?

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