Hundreds of Yemeni women on Wednesday set fire to traditional female veils to protest! You go girls!!!

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Hundreds of Yemeni women on Wednesday

set fire to traditional female veils to protest the government’s brutal

crackdown against the country’s popular uprising, as overnight clashes in the

capital and another city killed 25 people, officials said.

In the capital Sanaa, the women spread a black cloth across

a main street and threw their full-body veils, known as makrama, onto a pile,

sprayed it with oil and set it ablaze. As the flames rose, they chanted:
“Who

protects Yemeni women from the crimes of the thugs?”

The women in Yemen have taken a key role in the uprising

against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s authoritarian rule that erupted in
March,

inspired by other Arab revolutions. Their role came into the limelight earlier

in October, when Yemeni woman activist Tawakkul Karman was awarded the Nobel

Peace Prize, along with two Liberian women, for their struggle for women’s

rights.

Wednesday’s protest, however, was not related to women’s

rights or issues surrounding the Islamic veils – rather, the act of women

burning their clothing is a symbolic Bedouin tribal gesture signifying an
appeal

for help to tribesmen, in this case to stop the attacks on the protesters.

The women who burned clothing in the capital were wearing

traditional veils at the time, many covered in black from head to toe.

The women’s protest came as clashes have intensified between

Saleh’s forces and renegade fighters who have sided with the protesters and the

opposition in demands that the president step down.

Medical and local officials said up to 25 civilians, tribal

fighters and government soldiers died overnight in Sanaa and the city of Taiz

despite a cease-fire announcement by Saleh late Tuesday. Scores of others were

wounded.

A medical official said seven tribal fighters were among

those killed in Sanaa’s Hassaba district. Another medical official said four

residents and nine soldiers also died in the fighting there.

Government forces also shelled houses in Taiz – a hotbed of

anti-Saleh protests – killing five people, including four members of one
family,

a local official said. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because

they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Saleh has clung to power in the face of more than eight

months of massive near-daily protests against his rule.

As they burned their veils, Yemeni women activists handed

out leaflets appealing for help and protection.

“This is a plea from the free women of Yemen; here we burn

our makrama in front of the world to witness the bloody massacres carried by
the

tyrant Saleh,” the leaflets read.

Across town, a group of women supporters of Saleh marched

Wednesday up to the U.N. office to voice their opposition to international

pressure on the president to step down. The women entered the U.N. building to

hand in their protest note.

During a meeting with the U.S. ambassador on Tuesday, Saleh

offered to sign a U.S. and Gulf Arab-backed power transfer deal that gives him

immunity from prosecution if he steps down.

The meeting with U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein was

Saleh’s first since he returned last month from Saudi Arabia, where he was

treated after an attack on his presidential compound in June left him badly

wounded.

Saleh has repeatedly backed out of the deal at the last

minute and the opposition has dismissed his latest offer.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland

expressed disappointment over lack of progress, despite Saleh’s pledge to sign

the power transfer accord.

“We said that the proof would be in the pudding,” Nuland

said. “We haven’t yet tasted a good pudding.”

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