January 27, 2011, 2:36 pm

Yemen’s Opposition Goes to Code Pink

Opposition protesters in Yemen on Thursday sported pink, as planned.Gamal Noman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Opposition protesters in Yemen on Thursday sported pink, as planned.

The protesters who filled the streets of Sana, the Yemeni capital, on Thursday demanding the resignation of the country’s authoritarian leader claimed inspiration from similar large antigovernment protests that have rattled Egypt and toppled the government in Tunisia this month.

But among the details distinguishing these marchers — including a higher degree of organization and, at least for now, no major clashes — was the preponderance of pink. Headbands, sashes, banners of cloth or paper, even the ink of the blaring slogans were a delicate pastel pink.

The color — commonly associated in the United States with breast cancer awareness and princess outfits — was both a unifying symbol and an indication of the level of planning underlying the protests.

Weeks ago, as the Tunisian protests were still escalating, a committee of the Joint Meeting Parties, an umbrella group of opposition parties that helped organize Thursday’s protests, settled on an escalating scale of protest colors.

Opposition lawmakers began by wearing purple hats and scarves to during sessions of Parliament. They moved, as planned, to pink for Thursday’s protest, choosing the color to represent love and to serve as a signal that the protests were peaceful, according to Shawki al-Qadi, a lawmaker and opposition figure.

The final stage of the color plan will be a strong, dark red, Mr. Qadi said, though he did not rule out other hues before that. He said the opposition had not yet decided what actions would correspond with the move to red, but insisted that the protests would remain peaceful.

Thursday’s demonstrations followed days of smaller protests by students and opposition groups calling for the removal of President Ali Abdallah Saleh, a strongman who has ruled this fractured country for more than 30 years and is a key ally of the United States in the fight against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda.

Other colors appeared in photos of marches as well, but apart from the red, black and white of the country’s flag and scattered pockets of green, none dominated the march so much as pink.

The opposition parties may have had other considerations in mind as well when choosing from the softer side of the palate.

“Pastels in general have been chosen to avoid associations that come from primary colors that have already been linked to existing political movements or factions,” said Stacey Philbrick Yadav, a political science professor at Hobart & William Smith Colleges whose field research has focused on opposition parties in Yemen.

In the region, she said, strong associations can come with donning primary colors such as, in certain contexts, green for Islam or yellow for Hezbollah or black for ritual mourning, and the organizers may have sought to avoid any such connections.

“People are running out of colors,” said Professor Yadav.

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