Yemenites with No Religious Differences by Mokhtar Ramadan, Yemen

On June 7, 2017, my grandfather from my mother side, who is now about 73 years old, came to my house and spent a couple of days with us: me and my family.

We are from Al-Nazhah village, Ibb, Yemen. My village is about 150 km south of Sana’a, the Yemenite capital. In my village and other villages in the area, there were many Jewish Yemenites, but they moved to Israel one after another. No specific day was mentioned by my grandfather on which the Yemenite Jews moved from Yemen. We still have some of their handicrafts with us, like an expensive Jambia, windows having Solomon star shape and many other things on which Yemenite Jews left their marks.

I asked my grandmother about the Jews who were living with Muslims in the same village, stressing religious difference and good neighbourliness.

“Was there a kind of good neighbourliness between Yemenite Muslims and Jews in our village and other adjacent villages in the area?”, I asked my grandfather.

Yes, for sure. There was a wonderful neighbourliness. All people in the area were like one family, irrespective of religion, background, and other things that we witness nowadays.

“Why there was no difference between people with different religions in the area?” I asked him.

Simply, people did not pay much attention to religions and denominations as we, people, have been doing in recent decades; therefore, no frictions were created between people in the same village or area. We did not notice any difference between Muslims and Jews. Only on Fridays and Saturdays, days when Muslims and Jews celebrate.

He added that there was not this kind of stereotypes and propaganda that we hear nowadays aiming at defaming the other. There was no incitement against the Jews or Muslims. Jews respected the rituals and rites of Muslims and vice versa on Fridays and Saturdays, days when difference can be noticed. The rest of the week nobody can differentiate between Yemenite Muslims and Jews. In other words, people centered their attention on how to conduct life, paying no attention to the differences between religions.

 

This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region. 

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