Too often Yemen is portrayed as an ungovernable, barbaric, backwards country, where tribes are waging perpetual war against the state and Al Qaeda is recruiting at an enormous rate. While certain elements of this may be true, it is a preconception that displaces reality. The vast majority if Yemenis are not terrorists or fanatics as we are led to believe. (So sad, I even have to write that statement) Instead, Yemenis are farmers, venders, teachers, students, artists, and many more other things who have endured many years of resistance, revolutions and liberation.
Here are the 10 myths I found to have shaped the corporate media’s narrative of Yemen:
10. Al Qaeda has taken over Yemen.
9. They all carry AK-47’s, what’s up with that? They’re either militants, or..shit militants, RUN!
8. Wow, they’re so poor. We don’t have poverty in the U.S.
7. Tribes: we’re talking like powerful gangs, right?
6. Yemeni men are harsh oppressors of Yemeni women. Our men are so awesome!
5: Thank god for the uprising! There’s progressive women!
4. They all chew that green stuff, Qat. Let’s get high with them!
3. The National Dialogue Conference really helps Yemen build a democracy.
2. Water Shortage, see #4 then blame #4.
1. Yemen, TOO COMPLEX TO UNDERSTAND, go back to #1-9 ,report on any of those and your article will be published. .
Unfortunately, it’s AQAP and terrorism thats dominating the media coverage of Yemen and whats worse now is that it’s even becoming something associated with Yemeni culture. Ansar alshariaa or Al Qaeda are indeed a group of scary deranged men in Yemen and should rightly be seen as such. Yet, while their ideology found some ground in a country whose social economic was deeply ruptured by a corrupted government, their dark and deranged ideologies are still as alien to most Yemenis as they are to anyone in the West.
So while mainstream and corporate media like to call Yemen “ A failed state” or “Yemen on the brink”” most who have ever lived or visited Yemen recall, rather, a beautiful country with hospitable people who have a more nuanced perspective of a country that is indeed troubled (like many other’s including the United States), but find comfort in their history who have been yearning for freedom, dignity and a civic state. The least we can do is acknowledge that, and if we can, smash the myths and help protect the dreams and aspirations of the Yemeni people.
Check out these two great articles about Yemen beyond the headlines