As noted here before, Africans face far more racism in the Arab world than they do in Europe.
“Arabs hate black people. And that is not from today, it is in their blood,” says Aboubakr, a young man from Senegal who is hoping eventually to cross over into Europe
The black man on the bus, they pat him on the head and push him in the back. They make jokes about his pronunciation of the name of the market he is going to. He sits still, waiting for the humiliation to pass
A Somali man gets beaten at the bus station because he allegedly stole something. He doesn’t fight back, but cries. Passersby look the other way.
Minutes later, a woman is ignored by the bus driver because he doesn’t want Africans onboard. She patiently waits for the next bus.
One only has to use public transport in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital city, for a day or two to realize that being black here is no joy. There are no official numbers, but Yemen is home to hundreds of thousands of African immigrants. Most come from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea as refugees and non-refugees both
But here come the excuses…
According to Fouad Alalwi, head of the Sawa’a Organization for Anti-Discrimination, “It is a cultural thing in this region to treat non-citizens who are poor like this. People think that they bring criminality, although this has never been proven.”
So it’s just a “cultural” hatred for the poor. But wait… it is about race and religion…
The history Alawi refers to goes back to Christianity’s start, when the country was invaded a number of times by Ethiopians. They tried to Christianize the Yemeni population, but were eventually kicked out.
Yemenis became one of the first Muslims, though a large group of Ethiopians stayed behind and became slaves – a practice that may influence how some Yemenis perceive Ethiopians today.
Christianity predated Islam and Islam spread through conquest. The only significant part of these lies is the slave part. Muslims do keep non-Muslim slaves and Arabs do think of Africans as slaves.
The schizophrenic thing is that Yemen seems much more hospitable than other, much richer, countries in the region. Churches are accepted so long as they are not publicly visible.
That’s hospitable. You can have churches, so long as no one knows that they’re there.
Unemployment rates are sky-high and immigrants are frequently accused of taking away scarce jobs from locals.
In a paper on migration to and through Yemen from 2007, country expert Marina de Regt writes that poor Yemeni women told her they prefer begging to doing domestic work.
The latter has low social status and is often considered impossible because it would break with the traditional gender segregation (women working in the home of unknown men).
Well if you prefer begging to cleaning and dusting, then your country will invariably have a lot of beggars and African migrants to do the jobs that you would rather beg than do.
“They always ask me why I am a Christian,” Addisi says. On Fridays, she dresses in white to go to her Orthodox church. “I hurry through the streets,” she explains. “When people ask me where I am going, I say I am going to school.”
Making Ethiopian coffee in her small basement room in a flat building in Sana’a, she explains: “Almost every day people say I am a dog, they ask what I am doing here and [say] that we have changed their country.”
Oh, I’m sure she’s just an Islamophobe.