Al-Hammadi is accused of indecency and drug use. The lawyer: “A political and groundless sentence”
ROME. We had left her in the court of Sanaa where at the end of June she heard, unrecognizable due to a hunger strike, the accusation of prostitution and drug abuse pronounced against her by the justice of the pro-Iranian Houthi rebels, who had been handed over some months before. Then nothing more. Yesterday, the beautiful Yemeni model Intisar al-Hammadi reappeared on the media radar from which, unfortunately, she will disappear again in a flash: five years in prison for obscene acts and consumption of, a very heavy sentence that, announcing the appeal, the lawyer Khaled al Kamal defines “political and groundless”. The young woman, known in her homeland for participating in a TV series, was arrested in the capital last February 20 together with a colleague while on her way to work on the photo shoot. In May, according to Human Rights Watch, she had already been forced by physical and psychological torture to “confess” the “guilt” that – built on the alleged offense to public morality and a bit of hashish, in the society with the highest consumption of qat – it has no other root than the photos without a veil on Instagram, the glossy western covers, the ambition to live where women cannot live but neither can men, children, anyone.
Yemen, the poorest of the countries of the Islamic Crescent, has been in a state of permanent war for six years. The victims are almost 250,000, the displaced 2.5 million, every day 4 children are killed or maimed. In the last two months, in spite of the appointment of the new UN envoy, the Swedish Hans Grundberg, the exchange of missiles between the Houtis and the governments of the coalition headed by Saudi Arabia has, if possible, increased. According to Unicef, the legendary land longed for by Pasolini and Callas, faces the worst humanitarian crisis in memory (at least until the advent of Afghanistan), on which an endless conflict, economic devastation, zeroing infrastructure and international oblivion. Then there are the women. Those that bombs, tribalism, the violence of the miserable, obscure more and more every day, as in the disturbing images of the artist Boushra Almutawakel, mother, daughter and doll, one veil after another to absolute black.
In spite of himself, Intisar al-Hammadi, a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother, is a symbol. She, who probably was not looking for politics, becomes the symbol of the hopes lit also in Sanaa since the Arab Spring of 2011 and, after the fleeting recognition of the Nobel Peace Prize to compatriot and activist Tawakkul Karman, dampened in the blood. It is not the only one, indeed. But the face speaks for everyone.
“We are facing an exemplary sentence that wants to show the strength of the person who pronounces it, a filthy sentence, steeped in racism because of its Ethiopian origins, Intisar is in the prostitutes section of the capital’s prison because of his photos without a veil” Riccardo Noury of Amnesty International and relaunches the campaign for women’s liberation.
The judges decided under political pressure, insists Intisar al-Hammadi’s lawyer, long banned from speaking. But to really understand the game of which she is yet another “collateral damage” is to locate Sanaa, the capital controlled by the Houthis as well as part of the north, the areas of oil wells and power plants. The government officials are in the south, towards Aden, whose port has been in the hands of the Chinese for years, workers, engineers and zero questions. The answers are everywhere, in the livid air.
“The problem is that so far the story has passed that the Houthis were the good guys pursued by a ferocious coalition,” says an Italian doctor who has been on the front line in the capital for years. But no: “They commit the same atrocities and in the same tribal logic as the others, there are no good guys in this war against Yemen, if the Houtis had wanted to show themselves less ferocious than the others they would have had, in the case of this model, yet another chance to prove it “. We left her in court, Intisar. It is dark now, all around.
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