Students at a school in Yemen
Yemen has launched an anti-extremism awareness campaign in schools in the capital Sanaa to educate the youth about the violence that flared since the beginning of the national uprising last year.
The educational campaign, aimed specifically at elementary and secondary schools, seeks to empower children against the influence of extremist groups seeking to recruit young potentials for al-Qaeda fighters.
Yemeni and Egyptian religious clerics have been lecturing students on the effects of extremism on society, while making references to the Qur’an to support their perspectives, which is that Islam forbids terrorism.
Members of the Yemeni army have also been participating in the campaign to explain the toll extremist violence has on the country’s infrastructure. Rashad al-Wateri, a young army officer, said vandalising property, cutting water supplies and blocking roads are all forms of terrorism that seeks to frighten residents.
The campaign is a joint collaboration with several state ministries, including the ministries of education and culture.
Mohammed al-Khair, a local school principal, said: “the campaign came at an ideal time,” as in recent weeks, the government has boosted its onslaught on al-Qaeda linked fighters in the south of the country.
Islamist militants gained ground during last year’s uprising, which led to the overthrow of president Ali Abdullah Saleh, weakened the government, and divided the military.
The militants have taken over cities close to vital shipping routes on the Red Sea.
Colonel Mohammed al-Musailbili, an army official who is involved in the ongoing anti-Qaeda campaign, said there are plans to expand the campaign nationwide and conduct youth camps during the summer school vacation.
“We intensified a lot of activities and events in schools to enlighten the youth about the actions of these gangs, which they say are supported by Sharia law. Their actions are destructive and the ideology is deviant, and is aimed at destabilizing the country's security and stability,” al-Musaibili said.
On May 12, it was alleged that two US drone attacks killed at least 11 suspected al-Qaeda fighters. According to local and military officials, Yemeni forces killed 15 others in an ongoing offensive against the militants.