ANTITERROR YOUTH SEMINAR

SANA’A YEMEN 2009

Yemen is a country located on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, sharing its northern border with Saudi Arabia. It has lately become widely known for harboring different extremist and armed terrorists groups, such as Al Qaida. The international worries regarding Al Qaida has put a recent spotlight on Yemen, and talks are now going on between the US and the Yemenite government on how to deal with the problem. Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab region with a population of approximately 22 millions and an illiteracy rate of 40% according to the UN Human Development Report. The society is a very a strict and religious Muslim tribal society. Half of the population in Yemen are children, many of them have no education and are very poor, which makes them the prime targets for terrorist recruitment. This is why the non-profit organization “The Democratic School” organized an anti terror youth seminar gathering both youth in danger as well as representatives from the government and Muslim clerics. The seminar was organized by children between the ages of 12-18, and they themselves went out to handpick kids living in the impoverished areas of the capital Sana’a.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic): (Safa’a Al Watari (17 Years old) Event Organiser) “This seminar is targeting 150 children from Yemen, girls and boys. We are spreading awareness among them about terrorism and how terrorism affects them as a membes of society. This seminar is different then other seminars. Every seminar we have been to before always blame others for the problem. But in this one we are trying to show the youth what their roll and responsibilities are as members of society, not what the responsibilities of the government or civil society are concerning this. It’s about what we as children can do or change. “ Some of the participating children draw paintings to express how they feel about terrorism.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic): (Wafa Jambah (17 Years old) Participant) “Maybe these drawings can affect people maybe they wont but we are trying something. “ “This represents the skull of the terrorist devil engulfing children. “ “We want a safe country, we don’t want a country with terrorism and we want a world with out terrorism. “

SOUNDBITE (Arabic): (Sarah Al Samey (15 Years old) Participant) “I’m trying to send a small massage threw my drawings to say that we as children also feel that there is terrorism in the world. “ “I want to send a massage out, try and stop terrorism in anyway possible. “

SOUNDBITE (Arabic): (Safa’a Al Watari (17 Years old) Event Organiser) “Terrorism affects me as an individual directly and indirectly. It affects the economy and it affects tourism in our country. Since we are a country that doesn’t have a lot of natural resources we depend a lot on tourism, and the things that happened recently have affected tourism here. So we are trying to spread awareness among the youth, and tell them to wake up, this is your country this is your future therefore you have a role and it starts now. “