A translated version of this piece is Available in: العربية (Arabic)
image courtesy of Mohammed Khaled
‘Ana Insan Madani’ can best be translated as ‘I am a citizen’. In this regular feature, we meet prominent Yemenis from various backgrounds and fields and hear their thoughts on matters related to Yemen, being a citizen and what ‘madaniya’ means to them.
Mohammed Khaled is a well-known name amongst Yemeni youth – or rather, a well-known voice. Since his first voice recording on a cell phone several years ago, he has made a quantum leap – jumping from one stage to another, with a surprising lightness and remarkable resilience. Today Mohammed is invited to participate on the programs of the most renowned local and Arabic radio stations. Mohammed’s latest opportunity was presenting the ‘Al-Molhem’ (The Inspirer) program, which aired on Sout Alkhaleej Fm.
Using the Internet, especially social media, Mohammed Khaled’s voice has found its way to different parts of the world; although to date, Mohammed does not travel outside his home town in Yemen.
Al-Madaniya recently talked to Mohammed.
- What does the word madaniya / مدنية mean to you?
For me al-madaniya means a community awareness that can present the nation in its finest image. It’s how people understand their values, roles, rights and duties so everyone can ensure a decent life regardless of their beliefs and affiliations. In this situation, what would make a good person is achievement in the social, scientific, literary and artistic fields.
- What does homeland mean to you?
The geographical area that we were raised in, where we have the right to belong. That area of existence that we live in without any restrictions imposed upon us or any suffering. In other words, home is the place that guarantees me the chance to live in dignity and with freedom.
- What does it mean to be a citizen to you?
To belong to a country: to a state, to a homeland, where you have rights and duties.
- How would you describe the advantages and disadvantages of the rule of law?
The benefit of the law is that it allows everyone to live in an organized manner; in the sense of providing rules and provisions governing our lives. Its flaws may lie in its executors, not in the law itself.
- When you hear the word equality, what comes to your mind?
When I hear it, I feel a sense of pain and sadness about our reality and our way of life, which is overwhelmed by inequality for all members of this society. Here, people are not included as citizens and are not recognized with dignity and the respect they deserve.
- Have you voted before?
I have never voted in any elections.
- If you had the power to make one change in Yemen, what would it be and when?
If this power depends on a fictional power, then I would return Yemen to its first stage, ‘Yemen Felix/Happy Yemen’ as it was known. Ignorance is the most serious problem; in fact, it’s Yemen’s problem and contributes to its current crisis. If ignorance diminishes, awareness will grow in the community, and then no-one will be able to fool the public, wreak havoc, exploit others to oppress, etc.
- What should the world know about Yemen today?
It should be known that Yemen is very rich in its resources and its treasures in land and people. It is a country that has an important strategic location, charming nature and ancient heritage. Despite all the loss that has beset its inhabitants, and despite the vengeance and death tools used against them, they remain hopeful and alive.