JEB BOONE While the rest of the Middle East is caught up in the fervour of real grassroots change, the international media has glazed over demonstrations in Yemen as another Tunisia inspired call for democracy. 10,000 demonstrators took to the streets in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa last Thursday to call for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after his 32-year rule. Unfortunately, a popular front of concerned citizens is not spearheading these protests. What makes Yemen so different from Egypt or Tunisia is the marginal political freedom that the Saleh regime tolerates. The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) is a robust opposition bloc in Yemens parliament where Salehs party, the General Peoples Congress (GPC), holds the majority. Unlike in Egypt or Tunisia, The GPC often makes legislative concessions demanded of them by the JMP. Recently, after JMP demands, the GPC removed a clause from a proposed constitutional amendment that would have effectively allowed Saleh to rule indefinitely. In addition, the JMP have been leading demonstrations against the newly adopted election law setting the parameters of the parliamentary elections planned to take place in April. The most powerful party in Yemens main opposition bloc is the Islamic reform party, known as the Islah party. Tawakkol Karman, the activist playing a large part in leading the demonstrations against Saleh, is a prominent member of Yemens Islah party. Another leading member of the party, Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, is listed by the US Treasury Department as a specially designated global terrorist in light of his past relationship with Osama bin Laden. Of Islahs most notable legislative achievements in Yemen is the indefinite postponement of adopting a law to set a legal age for marriage. Following the stories of several child brides, the parliament tasked itself with drafting a law to set a firm legal marriage age to protect the rights of Yemeni girls. Scenes from Yemens demonstrations last Thursday reflected the political force that was driving them. Pink sashes draped across shoulders replaced cloth wrapped around faces to protect against teargas. The signs people waved calling for Saleh to step down were printed and distributed to demonstrators. The same signs were used at four separate demonstrations at four different locations. Karman has declared Feb 3rd to be Yemens Day of Rage and has called on the people of Yemen to take to the streets demanding that Saleh step down. Salehs paranoia and desire to hold onto power has driven him to take anti-democratic measures, increase censorship nationwide, and ravage any semblance of a free press. However, the planned Day of Rage on Feb 3 would only serve to hand the reins of power from a paranoid old man to a body of theocrats. Yemen wants neither. OpedNews.com