This post is not supposed to be controversial, but instead, meaningful and inspirational.
In the United States, we enjoy freedom of speech each and every day of our lives. Actually, we take it for granted because we don’t realize how fortunate we are to be born into such a great country. We have the right to complain, to speak out about our Government, and as a blogger, I particularly enjoy this freedom. As the “Princess of Positive,” I try to keep things pretty upbeat on Kiss My Gumbo, fluffy bunny type writing. But, the story I am about to share is very near and dear to my heart and with Memorial Day around the corner, I had to tell it to you. It has all the makings of a great made-for-TV story and we are all waiting for the happy ending.
It is the story of a journalist in Yemen. A man by the name of Abdulkarim “Karim” al-Khaiwani, a 42 year old father of four; ages 16, 12, 6 and 1. Someone you’ve never heard about or even read a word he has written. A man trying to practice his freedom of speech in a poor country, ruled with an iron fist. A man who is brave enough to try and get the truth out even though he knows his government could silence him. Currently, this brave man, who dared to write things that the Yemen Government did not want the world to know about, found himself charged with trying to “overthrow the government” this past July, with an article critical of the regime’s policy. The charge that carries the death penalty. He was released on bail and the verdict is due next week.
His future for freedom, has become optimistic, due to a dear friend of mine, Jane Novak. Jane is a mom from New Jersey who has reached out to help this man as a blogger, while just writing from her laptop. Over the past few years, Jane has been embraced by the people of Yemen who see her as their hope and connection to the free world. She is a mother of 2, whose hobby has turned into something very powerful. Her little blog has turned huge as the fate of Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani has got the notice of the American & now international press, due to a recent article in the New York Times.
Due to Jane’s effort for drawing attention to the plight of one journalist in a Country she has never even visited nor speaks the language, the sentencing due to be handed down this week, has been postponed. Most likely, the Yemen Government is hoping that the story in the press will just go away. But instead, bloggers such as myself, need to keep it in the headlines and demand the release of a journalist who should be free.
Here is a dinner conversation I had with my family about Karim, Jane Novak and Yemen:
Me: Jane’s story made the NYT and people all over the world are picking up on it.
Son #2: What is her story about?
Me: A journalist in Yemen who is in prison and may be put to death for writing the news as he sees it.
Son #2: So the Country wants to kill him for telling the truth?
Son#2: Is it the government that put him in jail? What about freedom of speech?
Me: Yes- they don’t want to hear what he has to say.
Son#2: Just for doing his job, that is awful. I am so glad I live in the United States.
Hubby: Do you know what protects our freedom?
Kids all chime in: Bill of Rights, Constitution, Declaration of Independence
Hubby: Do you think a piece of paper makes any difference? What makes the piece of paper work?
Kids all chime in: government, soldiers
Hubby: The willingness of the people to fight and die for what they believe is on those pieces of paper.
Jane’s blog is a must visit and allows you opportunities to let the Yemen Government and the world know that you believe in freedom of speech and care about the freedom of a journalist you never even met, from a country you never visited.
***this post can be read at NOLA.com and my personal blog. Also tune in to Kiss My Gumbo Radio every Saturday from 3:00-4:00 on AM 690 WIST. This weeks guest will be Mr. & Mrs. Cocktail & WIST’s very own Eric Asher! Feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
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