Yemeni activist and Nobel Prize laureate Tawakel Karman kicked up a fuss within the political party of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh – over her name.
Tawakel Karman’s father, Abdul Salam Khaled Karman, was forced to drop his last name from the list of party founders during the party’s celebration of its 30th anniversary in recent weeks.
Mr. Karman, a former minister, was invited to Popular Congress Party’s celebration in which the party paid tribute to the 132 public figures who took part in founding the bloc.
The political party had been led by former President Saleh who relinquished power following an uprising opposing his rule last year.
Karman’s name stirred much controversy inside the party with many insisting on removing it from the list because of his daughter’s role in the protests that eventually toppled Saleh’s regime.
Following a heated debate between supporters and detractors of removing Karman’s name, a compromise was finally reached and it was decided that his name will remain on the list to honor his achievements in the party but his family name Karman, which denotes his relationship with Tawakel, would be removed.
Abdul Salam Khaled Karman, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, was minister of legal affairs in the coalition government formed in 1993 and was later appointed head of the Public Funds Court.
In 2001, Saleh appointed him in the Consultative (Shura) Council, of which he is a member till until now.
Throughout the past year, Karman has no longer been referred to as a former minister or a member of the Consultative Assembly, but rather as the father of activist Tawakel Karman, the first Arab woman to get a Nobel Prize.
When Tawakel was awarded the prize, Saleh did not congratulate her, a reaction regarded by observers as a sign of his fury at her role in ousting him.
For Yemeni journalist and political activist Rashad al-Sharaabi, what the party did with Tawakel’s father is both illogical and biased.
“They cannot remove his last name just because they don’t like what his daughter did,” he told Al Arabiya.
Sharaabi cited the example of Osama bin Laden whose terrorist activities did not affect his family in Saudi.
“The Saudi government has never taken any action again anyone with the last name bin Laden family just because one of the members was head of a terrorist organization, let alone mentioning the huge difference between being a terrorist and being an activist and the fact that Tawakel sided with the choice of her people and fought for their rights,” Sharaabi said.