Walid Al-Qadasi, a 23 years old protester, can always be found walking around Change Square where the anti-government protests have taken place since February and spreading positivity, hope and awareness.
Walid has big smile on his face no matter what happens, and one can always find comfort chatting to Walid about the peaceful revolution. He is a very confident character; humble when arguing and giving his point of view and enthusiastic when planning for activities within the revolution. He is the bee of the square.
Walid was born in al-Omal city in Al-Hodida governorate, where he studied until he graduated from high school, before moving to the capital, Sana’a, to study civil engineering at Sana’a University where the revolution was born by Walid and his collogues.
Inspired by Egypt
He was part of the revolution from the first days. “We were following all the news on the Egyptian revolution at that time dreaming of a Yemeni one, we had a strong belief that Yemen would be next,” said Walid.
Back then the Yemeni University students started to dedicate two hours of their day to protest, hoping that one day they would become what Change Square is today.
Walid, who is also a poet, doesn’t belong to any political party – not because of pride about his political independency but because he does not have the time for the political commitment that would be required from him.
However, since the revolution his beliefs have changed; he now feels that political engagement is possible even though he is still a student and dependent on his family.
Unlike other independent youth who think that opposition political parties are playing the same role as the regime, Walid thinks they are important partners in this revolution to victory – and that the youth have to accept this.
“Political parties are important and we [independent youth] must recognize their political history and their resistance against the regime practices,” said Walid.
As the country is going through a critical and sensitive period, defection between different components of the revolution is not good at all, he added. They should stand with each other against one enemy: the regime.
“We are in a democratic country so we should not waste this advantage [democracy]. Instead we should develop it by working together to achieve one goal,” said Walid.
Walid accused the regime of spreading the idea that the opposition political parties take advantage of the youth to gain power.
“The regime works hard to make a gap between the youth and the political parties as they know that the two by working together we will win for sure, so the regime will eventually withdraw for sure” he added.
Everyone knows the youth were the ones to spark the revolution and that the opposition political parties joined them after three weeks, said Walid. Still, at some point the political parties forgot role of the youth in this revolution.
While many youths complain they are not represented fairly in the National Council, Walid thinks that they still have a role to play.
“The youth role is still active but there is so many scenarios happening now on a political level, which confuses them,” he explained adding that there is little political awareness among the youth.
“We need more political awareness to help us to understand our country and serve it in the best ways,” he added.
Walid seems to be confident about the aim of the revolution. “We want to establish a fair state; we need to share the same values as southerners and northerners as we all belong to one country.
“What we hope to achieve through this revolution is also to learn more about some concepts such as citizenship and identity – by seeking equal citizenship we need hope to get rid of the extremism the regime founded in Yemen – we want Yemen to become a modern civil state.”
Walid faced some obstacles starting the revolution with his friends. “The main obstacle we faced was ’illiteracy‘,” he explained.
He added that the regime did not bet on anything to survive but illiteracy. “The regime didn’t bet on the country’s economy because they knew how damaged it was, they did not bet on military defection, nor on the country’s institutes; they were counting on illiteracy and a lack of awareness among Yemenis.”
Walid said that the revolution took longer than expected but helped to changed awareness, which is a key step to bring about real change in any revolution. “Lots of people now have a clear image of the Houthis cause and how the war started in Sa’da, they knew more about the south’s cause.”