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Kamal Al-Solaylee (Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Kamal Al-Solaylee (Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Earlier discussion

From bikinis to burkas: An online discussion about Yemen Add to ...

12:28 [Comment From Alex MacLean]Kamal and Patrick: I find often the Middle East is conflated into one narrative which tends to obscure regional and cultural diversity in the region. Having said that, and keeping in mind that Yemen is the topic here today, do you see any kind of broader shifts in the Islamic world that are a source of hope? Does what is happening in Iran represent a possibility of change for the region, or is that a unique circumstance based on the history of that nation state? Or is a more conservative Koranic reading going to remain the status quo for some time?

12:29 Globe and Mail: Here's Patrick's answer by e-mail:

I know what you mean, but there's good reason for the narrative. The Arab world is beset with two fundamental trends: the desire of the people for empowerment and betterment (often at the expense of autocratic leaders) and the Islamic trend that provides one avenue of achieving those goals. Within the Islamic trend, the bias remains one of conservtism, sometimes leading to extremism, and that's very much in evidence here in Yemen (as Kamal so wonderfully documented in his Focus piece. 99.9 per cent of women here are covered by burkas. That was not the case 20 years ago. And it wasn't even the case 10 years ago, I'm told. And that's just one indicator. In the capital, Sanaa, religiosity is very high. No husband would hold the hand of his wife in public, let alone hug or kiss her. In Aden, today, I saw some couples holding hands at sunset on the corniche. But is stunned me since i hadn't seen it anywhere else. The political goals here are torn between a secular-oriented government that bows to tribal pressure and a rising group of Wahhabis led by the general who is running the war against the Huthi (a Shia group) in the North. Some say the general has his eye on power.

12:31 Kamal Al-Solaylee: I just want to add that, with the Interent rise, the very young generation (my nephews and nieces) are far more curious intellectually and I see that as a sign of hope and possible change.

12:31 Globe and Mail: Here's a story Patrick wrote on the war against the Huthi.

12:32 [Comment From yaamiin]You say extremism is caused by poverty. However Abu Mutallab...John Walker Lindh...Osama Bin Laden...911 terrorists...British terrorists...so many of them have been wealthy. Isn't it the ideology, more than the poverty that causes extremism?

12:35 Kamal Al-Solaylee: That the leaders of terror networks or the instigators of specific acts are not of the poor masses doesn't surprise me. Margaret Wente wrote a wonderful column in Saturday's Globe about the new face of extremism: Western-educated, well-to-do folks. However, poverty provides the breeding grounds and acts a free recruitment device.

12:37 Globe and Mail: Here's the column that Kamal is referring to.

12:37 [Comment From Victoria Hinchcliffe]Congratulations on a fantastic article Kamal!!! May it be one of many!!

12:37 [Comment From eman]Without meaning to divert the main topic of discussion. I am curious to know if in both your opinions, there is a link between levels of education as we know them conventionally in the west and the rise in radicalism? more so, if there is a link between the growth of this radicalism saudi-fuelled wahabism ? I know both are loaded questions, apologies in advance.

12:40 Kamal Al-Solaylee: It's not just the level of education but the quality of it. Even the more advanced countries in the Middle East (Egypt, Lebanon) use an educational system that emphasizes memorization over questioning. There's little room for dissenting opinions and free thinkers. I'll leave Patrick to address the rest of your question as he's far more qualified as a seasoned foreign reporter.

12:41 [Comment From Natalia Cernei-MacLean]Question for Kamal and Patrick: do you think the media in the West are giving a fair coverage to the event in Middle East, and i mean not only Yemen, but also recent events in Iran, for example. As i heard from a colleague, who is Persian, the news that we read in Canadian media aren't make that much news in the country of origin, is this because people, say in Iran, don't care about the protests in their streets? Also, do you think media in the West is objective about the situation of people in Middle East?

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