An outbreak of fighting in May 1994 put Yemen in the world's headlines when, from one point of view, the unity of Yemen proclaimed in May four years earlier was confirmed by force. One topic which straddles that period has been Islah, an Islamist party of unusual form. The present article explores the rhetorical axes that defined Islah. Briefly put, a supposedly “fundamentalist,” even “radical,” party, was in fact more a party of the establishment center. Its public identity, however, depends on terms and arguments that are centered elsewhere than Yemen, and they misrepresent, to many Yemenis as to others, what is happening. The problem is not resolved by such standard academic moves as avoiding “stereotypes” or sticking to “local terms.” The terms at issue are widely shared among Yemenis and foreigners alike.