A moment of grace in war-torn Yemen: Tribal chief forgives man involved in son’s killing

© @Alsakaniali

On February 20, 2023, a man convicted of murder was pardoned moments before he was supposed to be executed in the Marib region of central Yemen. Many locals have been sharing the story on social media as a source of inspiration and to ease the burden in a country scarred by nine years of war. Our Observer told us that the pardon was granted after a woman intervened and that her gender played an important role.

In 2016, Rabae Al-Demasi, a young man from the Bani Jabr tribe in western Marib, killed his friend Sadam during an argument. Sadam was the son of Abdullah Al-Quhati, the chief of the Murad tribe in Marib. Rabae has since been arrested and sentenced to death. His execution was scheduled for 20 February 2023.

But as the execution approached, Rabae's mother went to the grave of the victim, Sadam. She camped there and begged Abdullah for forgiveness. On 20 February, the day of the execution, Abdullah decided to grant the mother's request and pardon Rabae.

Although the perpetrator was tried by a state court, the Yemeni legal system granted the victim's father the right to a pardon.

The moment when Abdullah forgave the man involved in his son’s killing was captured in photos that were widely shared on social media.

Other photos show the murderer's mother sitting in front of the victim's grave in a makeshift tent with a child in her arms.

'According to tradition, it is shameful to refuse a woman's request'

Women have a certain amount of influence when it comes to dealing with tribal leaders in Yemen, they are listened to and respected. But their importance is often unrecognised and underreported.

Read more on The Observers - France 24