Version classiqueVersion mobile

Société civile, associations et pouvoir local au Yémen

Sarah Ben Nefissa
Maggy Grabundzija
Jean Lambert

English Abstracts


Ahmed Jaber Afif

Texte intégral

1In Yemen, civil society appeared quite recently: it dates from the first third of the 20th c. The first cooperatives and mutual aid funds emerged at Mukalla and Seyyoun under the influence of the Hadramis’ emigration to Asia and South-Eastern Africa. Later at the end of the World War II, the first trade unions and the first newspapers were established in Aden. By dint of these two processes, dynamic types of organization, that are proper to modern civil society, came into being -popular associations, trade unions, political parties and the press.

2In Northern Yemen, under the despotic rule of the ‘Mutawakkilite’ Imam, associations and civil movements remained clandestine, since they represented for the Imam ‘a filthy gang instigated by the Devil’. Therefore, their influence was very weak; they ran counter to a traditional society, characterized by tribalism and backwardness, and which rejected modernity outright. There is no question that civil society can only exist and thrive in a full-fledged public space and in a democratic environment.

3The 1962 revolution, the civil war in the North and the post-independence political conflicts in Aden had an adverse effect on the development of civil society. It was only in the 1970’s that development cooperatives appeared – an important landmark in social progress which deserves further study. The unification of Yemen ushered in period of critical change which continues to date.

4The conference organized in July 2006 by the French Centre of Archeology and Social Sciences, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Afif Foundation for Culture was probably the first one of its kind to deal with this question in an objective fashion. Now, many workshops have been held and scores of books have been published on the subject. Yet, the Ahmed Jaber Afif material presented at the conference, and then gathered in book form by CEFAS and FES, offers for the first time a scientific exposition of the issue. The publication of these studies sheds light on positive aspects of these civic movements and brings about their dissemination among a reading public which had no access to it until recently.

5The modernization of traditional civil society (ahlī), made up of a tribal system and constraining social ties requires its radical transformation, thanks to economic, social and cultural changes, into an alternative civil society (madanī). The latter civil society is underpinned by professional ethics, common interests and strong beliefs rather than by automatic solidarity and blind obedience to the state. This conference, by enabling different points of view to be expressed in an open debate, offered us a unique opportunity, for the possibility of such a debate betokens the very existence of this civil society. The Afif Foundation rejoices in this latter development for which it has ceaselessly been striving.

6We would like to express our gratitude to the CEFAS for the scientific input that it contributed to the organization of the conference and the publication of this book. The Centre has published numerous volumes in the field of history, art, literature and cultural heritage, all of is has been of great value to Yemen. This is epitomized by The Light of Knowledge, a treasure discovered by historian Mohammed Abd al‑Rahim Jāzem, and published following his meticulous editing. We would like to emphasize the scientific contribution of the director of CEFAS, Dr Jean Lambert, who has cast light on many facets of Yemen’s culture, art and literature.

7We wish to thank all the participants in this event and we hope that it will draw the world’s attention to the creative experiment of civil society in Yemen.


President of al-Afif Cultural Foundation

© Centre français de recherche de la péninsule Arabique, 2008

Licence OpenEdition Books


Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search