The Yemeni human rights activist and the Nobel Peace Prize
By Iqbal Tamimi
Yemeni Tawakkul Karman, one of the leaders of the protest movement against President Ali Abullah Saleh was named one of three Nobel Peace Prize winners on Friday. She was hailed “for her non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.
As much as this reward made all Arab women proud, it has raised many question marks. Among which that she has shared the prize with Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her compatriot Leymah Gbowee, who mobilised fellow women against their country’s civil war, yet they never got the publicity that Karman has enjoyed following the announcement.
One wonders, was her winning decision affected in any way with the fact that her looks reflect a typical classic example of a Muslim woman wearing a hijab that her political activities revealed to the Western world that the image recycled by their own mainstream media about oppressed Muslim women was blown out of proportion, and consequently, it’s about time to attract audiences through a new media policy angle by highlighting a new image of Muslim woman, or was that another politically motivated choice to reflect the western states’ stand of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, keeping in mind that there were hundreds of women in the Arab world who have had similar roles as Tawakkul, especially in Egypt, yet none of them was mentioned or nominated.
There are hundreds of networks created by women similar to Tawakul Karman’s human rights group, Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC), which was mentioned as one of her achievements. It has also been mentioned that she has received “threats and temptations” from the authorities, this as well happened to many active campaigners from both genders in the Middle East. The question remains, has Karman been chosen for this award for politically motivated reason, or because Aljazeera gave her media exposure that she was introduced to the monitoring world unlike other human rights activists and campaigners.
It was interesting to hear the BBC report about Karman’s winning yesterday describing her as ‘she abandoned the Burqaa and started her political activity’. Was abandoning the burqaa a point in her favour?
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its statement: “We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.”. This sounded like a Quota decision, where men are deprived of this year’s competition because it was about time to highlight women’s participation in democracy. That would be an undemocratic procedure for democratically driven reasons.
What a statement! Women are encouraged to “bring an end to the suppression of women” while men are manufacturing arms and trading with lethal weapons and creating wars. Men are allowed to break and damage while women are hailed for being able to pick up the pieces and for rebuilding what has been destroyed.
The fact remains that we are delighted and very proud of the three women winners, but for some reason, we can’t forget that Nobel Prize has been awarded to politicians who are linked to aggressions, such as Menachem Begin, the first Likud Party Israeli prime minister, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace, along with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for signing the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, knowing that in 1942, Manachem Begin immigrated to Palestine where he led the Irgun terror gang and waged a wave of terror against British and the Palestinian people that he was wanted by the British as terrorist for war crimes against the Palestinian people. Begin was credited with the massacre of DEIR YASSIN, the most famous massacre against Palestinian civilians. In 1977 he became Israel’s sixth Prime Minister and credited with achieving the first peace treaty after neutralizing Egypt’s army. With Egypt sidelined, Begin felt comfortable attacking the PLO and destroying its bases in Lebanon during the 1982 Israeli invasion, besides the fact that he was a strong believer in the IRON WALL theory.
Was choosing the Peace Nobel Prize winners politically motivated?…I would say yes.