March 25, 2011
Tawakul Karman, a 32-year-old mother of three, may seem an unlikely leader of the fight to overthrow the president of Yemen. But the outspoken journalist and human rights activist has long been a thorn in Ali Abdullah Saleh’s side, agitating for press freedoms and staging weekly sit-ins to demand the release of political prisoners from jail – a place she has been several times herself. Now inspired by the uprising in Tunisia and the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, she finds herself at the head of a popular protest movement which is shaking the Yemeni regime to its core. “With two civil wars, an al-Qaida presence and 40% unemployment, what else is President Saleh waiting for? He should leave office now,” she says, claiming that Yemen, like Tunisia and Egypt, needs an end to a dictatorship in the guise of a presidency.