AL-MUKALLA: A young Yemeni model and actress abducted from a Sanaa street by the Iran-backed Houthi militia always dreamed of a career in fashion.
The kidnapping of Entesar Al-Hammadi and two of her friends is the latest in a string of attacks by the Houthis on dissidents and liberal women in areas under the group’s control. It has sparked an angry response at home and abroad, and rights groups and activists have demanded Al-Hammadi’s release.
Al-Hammadi was born to a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother, and pursued her ambition to become a model despite growing up in a conservative society. When she was a child, Al-Hammadi wore her mother’s clothes around the house and imitated famous models she watched on TV. Her parents “told me my dream of becoming a model was pie in the sky. I said that it was my dream and I would keep pursuing it,” she said in a TV interview last year.
Al-Hammadi, who planned to enroll at a college next year, found fame when a friend who was a professional photographer published photos of her on social media wearing traditional Yemeni outfits, including a hijab.
The acclaim the images received prompted her to pose for images without a hijab, drawing criticism from conservative observers. “I did not care about anything, since I love this profession,” she said.
Al-Hammadi has also appeared in two local TV drama series.
She has spoken out about her experience of racism on account of her dark skin, but has voiced her ambition to further her career, and model on international catwalks. “It would be great if I was given an opportunity outside Yemen,” she said.