Yemeni Women Burn Veils To Protest Crackdown

In protest over the Yemeni government’s brutal crackdown on protesters — 25 are reported to have died on Tuesday in the capital of Sana and in the city of Taiz, after a ceasefire was announced — hundreds of women have set their veils on fire. After spreading a black cloth on the main street of Sana, the women placed their makrama or full-body veils down, sprayed them with oil and set them on fire. They also chanted “Who protects Yemeni women from the crimes of the thugs” and passed out leaflets proclaiming

“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 [President Ali Abdullah] Saleh.”

The burning of the makrama is a “symbolic Bedouin gesture signifying an appeal to tribesmen for help.” The women participating were wearing traditional veils, with many fully clothed in black, and their protest was not about women’s rights. But their presence in Yemen’s anti-government protests that began in March has been constant. Earlier this month, Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with two Liberian women, for their championing of women’s rights.

Karman’s receiving of that award has not stopped Saleh’s regime from its bloody suppression of protesters and opposition members. The women’s protest occurred as clashes have again arisen between Saleh’s forces and army deserters who are backing the protesters and the opposition. Among those killed were tribal fights and soldiers, as well as civilians.

The massive protests have occurred almost daily in Yemen for eight months. Saleh, who was severely burned in an assassination attempt in June and spent weeks recovering in Saudi Arabia, has repeatedly said that he would agree to deals to transfer power and step down, but every time has pulled out of the agreement at the last minute. On Tuesday, he met with Gerald Feierstein, the US ambassador, for the first time since his return from Saudi Arabia. Once again, Saleh said that he would sign a US and Gulf Arab-backed power transfer deal which will grant him immunity from prosecution if he steps down. Said State Department Victoria Nuland over the lack of progress, for all of Saleh’s pledges:

“We said that the proof would be in the pudding. We haven’t yet tasted a good pudding.”

The opposition, more than wise to Saleh’s tactics, has dismissed this latest attempt to end the crisis in Yemen, which has not only deepened the woes of the country’s already struggling economy, but allowed for terrorist groups including Al Qaeda to infiltrate parts of the country.

Previous Care2 Coverage

Yemeni Protesters Defy President Saleh; 12 Killed

10 Month Old Boy Among 83 Killed in Yemen (Video)

At Least 22 Yemeni Protesters Killed As Troops Open Fire (Video)

Photo taken in March in Sanaa by Sallam


Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan6 years ago

I wish all women had a choice whether to burn their veil or wear it.

Dijana D.
Dijana D6 years ago

it's so wonderful to see the women there being so liberated

Meta Reid
Meta Reid6 years ago

To do what they did took courage for that I salute them. Maybe someday they'll have the courage not to wear makrama ever again.

rene davis
irene davis6 years ago


rene davis
irene davis6 years ago


Douglas S.
Douglas S6 years ago


ANA MARIJA R6 years ago

i agree with Zee K.
Thank you for the information.

Rob and Jay B.
Jay S6 years ago

Wouldn't it be nice that they burned their veils in defiance at having to just wear the ugly things & for being 3rd class citizens, always under the authority of some man or men, even a young boy has power over them. Just shows the power of brainwashing from an early age to get people to accept the unacceptable.

When these women in these countries start to burn their veils & demand equal rights as human beings, then we can begin to have hope for real change. Until then it's just a little storm in a little tea kettle.

As Beth says, the failure of the so-called 'Arab Spring' to usher in freedom & democracy should make us all a lot more cynical to any movements in this area of the world. Centuries of conditioning to believe in the inferiority of women & the superiority of men (despite the evidence) will take real education to overcome, not just a few years of learning to recite verses of the Qur'an in a language most probably don't even understand.

Cathy Noftz
Cathy Noftz6 years ago

~Loved this!~The women should be proud of theirselves as they are definitly sending a message and it's being heard all around the world!!~

Rosemary G.
Rosemary G6 years ago

Dearest Gloria M, unfortunately, we also must fight the women who are part of the problem and refuse to see there is a problem and who also want to control our bodies..