A Yemeni millionaire, tipped to be the next president of Yemen, has come under fire for insulting Yemeni women protestors in an interview with the New York Times.
Hamid al Ahmar, wealthy businessmen and head of opposition in the tribal-led country made the blunder when being interviewed in Change Square, Sanaa last week.
When asked how he felt about the demonstrators demands for women’s rights in Yemen, he said: “Those women wanted to go hand in hand with their boyfriends as lovers in the demonstrations. This is not right and is against our religion.”
He later fiercely denied the quotes, posting an official denial on his Facebook page and demanding an apology from the newspaper. According to Al Ahmar, there was no official interview with the Times, instead he claimed he was approached by a researcher for the Swedish consulate.
Yemeni bloggers and activists have called the comments “offensive” and one group is planning on suing the politician for slandering the women involved in the protests.
Regulars in Change Square have expressed fears over Al Ahmar coming into power as he is known as a religious hardliner. In the interview, the Sheikh played down their concerns, claiming that the conservative Islamist party he represented had become more open in recent years.
By Helen Brooks and Maisa Khudair
What do you think really happened in the interview? Tell us your thoughts.