In Sanaa, Yemen, an American teacher was shot dead on Sunday, March 18, 2012. The gunmen that committed the act are thought to be linked to ever-present terrorist group Al Qaeda. They claimed responsibility a few hours after the shooting, citing that the English language teacher was pushing Christian beliefs on Yemeni children as well as English. This is not an isolated incident. There have been dozens of clashes between the Yemeni authorities and militant networks, some linked to Al Qaeda and some not. It all goes to show the challenges facing the new president of Yemen, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He only took office just a month ago in the wake of rampant protests against the previous leader.
The gunmen escaped after killing Joel Shrun, the victim who was only 29 years of age. In claiming responsibility, Al Qaeda called Shrun a proselytizer, a term frequently used by them. It is the act of trying to convince one party to change opinions about something, and is often used specifically for when someone tries to convince someone else to abandon their religion and follow a different one. The Muslim extremists say that there has been a wave of Christian proselytizing that has been launched by Western countries, and this activity violates Islamic law.
Yemen is a hotspot that both the United States and its neighbor Saudi Arabia are heavily concerned about. Yemen is one of the world’s biggest exporters of oil, and many are concerned that Al Qaeda and other militants are rapidly gaining ground in the country while a new government is not able to do a whole lot about it. Daily skirmishes are reported all over the nation, and often even peaceful protests or events turn violent on a dime.