In response to the Yemeni government’s brutal crackdown on protesters, thousands of women defiantly gathered in the capital of Sanna Wednesday to burn traditional veils and headscarves.
Women involved in the nine-month protests against the Ali Abdullah Saleh regime have tried to carry out a similar type of veil burning protest prior to today’s action. However, were unable to do so because of pressure by activists concerned that burning something traditional to Islam would turn tribes against the anti-government movement.
However, it appears that the women were catapulted to make the defiant move following overnight clashes between government forces and protesters that killed 25 people, according to officials.
The message behind the burning of traditional veils in Yemen appears to be twofold.
First, the women are burning the traditional veils to gain more international attention, and aid, in their campaign against the brutal Saleh regime.
The woman also burned the veils, as it is a symbolic gesture traditionally used to expend an appeal for aid from tribesmen.
The Yemen Post reports that over the past few days women have been targets of government forces being shot at by snipers and even executed.
As the veils burned, the women chanted, “Who protects Yemeni women from the crimes of the thugs?”
Women involved in Wednesday’s protest told CNN that they were burning the veils to also condemn tribes for their silence against the brutal crackdown that anti-government protesters have been facing for months.
At Wednesday’s protest women carried banners that read, “Saleh the butcher is killing women and is proud of it.”
Other banners read, “Women have no value in the eyes in Ali Saleh.”
One female activist told the Yemen Post, “We are the mother, daughter and sister of Yemen, men owe us protection; they should lay down their lives to protect us. Shame on whoever lays a hand on a woman or a child.”
The women also passed out leaflets that read, “This is a plea from the free women of Yemen; here we burn our makrama in front of the world to witness the bloody massacres carried by the tyrant Saleh.”
Many women in Yemen have taken to the streets inspired by the October Nobel Peace Prize win by Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman.
The support of women has proven to be pivotal in the nine months protest movement against the Ali Abdullah Saleh regime.