Yemen's Parliament Speaker Refuses to Board Belgian Plane over Dagger Ban

Published June 15th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Yemen's parliament speaker refused to board a plane of the Belgian carrier Sabena because its captain tried to make him take off the traditional curved dagger worn by Yemeni men, a newspaper reported on Thursday. 

Asharq Al-Awsat said Sheikh Abdullah Ahmar, a tribal chief, was headed from Helsinki to Brussels on Monday for a meeting at the European parliament. 

"The captain of the Belgian plane asked my father to take off his jambiya (dagger) which would be returned by Belgian police at Brussels airport," the sheikh's son, Sadek Abdullah Ahmar, told the London-based Arabic daily. 

In protest, Sheikh al-Ahmar and his delegation decided to take a later flight to the Belgian capital and spent an extra night in Helsinki. 

"My father has never been so humiliated in his numerous travels abroad while in traditional Yemeni costume," the son said, referring to the jambiya, which is a symbol of virility and honor for men in Yemen. 

Worn on a decorative belt, it dangles from the center of the waistline.  

Boys as young as five wear the jambiya, although the dagger itself is fixed to the sheath as a precaution - LONDON (AFP) 


© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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