Now Yemen faces the backlash of a new religion: Freedom
After the regime change in Tunisia and simmerings in Algeria, Jordan and Egypt, it is now the turn of the dictators of Yemen to face the people’s fury, as thousands of Yemeni activists, students and opposition groups held protests at the capital Sanaa, demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The story from Aljazeera throws up interesting numbers that compel me to compare Yemen with India. “Nearly half of Yemen’s population lives below the poverty line of $2 a day and doesn’t have access to proper sanitation,” it says. In India, the figure is 800 million.
“Less than a tenth of the roads are paved,” it says. I have no numbers right now but based on anecdotal evidence, the figure would be smaller for India.
“Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes by conflict, flooding the cities,” it says. Sad, but not a number that wouldn’t shock anyone in India.
“The government is riddled with corruption,” it says. So does the Indian government and bureaucracy.
The difference between what happens in the Hindu-dominated India and in the Islamic Arab nations is not religious. Arab dictators are finally facing their people’s wrath. The political crisis in Tunisia or Algeria is not because of high inflation but has only been triggered off by it.
The real problem, lying below economics or religion, is political. It is no longer about fooling citizens that the dictators are denying religion freedoms to adherents of other faiths — as this story points out, Muslim-majority nations are more likely to deny religious freedoms.
The vicious and venomous snake that bit Christians, Hindus or Sikhs in Islamic nations is now turning to eat its own tail, kill its own citizens. It is about time dictators realised that the time for smothering public expression is over. Something will have to give. And in the foreseeable future, looks like it’s going to be dictatorships.