Houthi rebels step up persecution of Baha’i minority in Yemen

By Ahmad Majidyar and Lama Al Jarallah| Sep 21, 2018

Earlier last week, Iranian-backed Houthi authorities arrested 24 Baha’is on charges of espionage and apostasy, which are punishable by death. Amongst those arrested are eight women, a teenage girl, and 15 men that hold leadership positions in the Baha’i community in Yemen. The charges – including accusations of being agents for Israel, the U.S., and the U.K –were formalized during their trial, which took place secretly and without a prior notice on September 15. Followers of the faith claim that they have been subjected to increasing harassment  since the Houthis’ rise to power in 2014, and they attribute that to Iran’s influence over the rebel movement.

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in reports of harassment and detention of Baha’is in Sana’a, the Houthi-controlled capital of Yemen. This has been accompanied with inflammatory speeches and propaganda in which Houthi leaders and public figures promote waging war against the minority group. A spokesman for the Baha’i community in Yemen accused Iran of crafting and exporting their policy of persecution aimed at “eradicating the intellectual and religious diversity in Yemen”, one which the Houthis have willfully adopted.

Earlier this March, Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi made a speech in which he denounced the Baha’i faith and accused its followers of collaborating with Western countries and Israel. His speech echoed a 2013 fatwa released by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he called upon Iranians to avoid any and all engagement or interaction with the Baha’is. Al-Houthi’s speech triggered a series of reiterations by news sites, radio stations, and TV programs. A few days later, prominent Houthi writer and strategist Ahmad ‘Ayed Ahmad tweeted that they “will skin every Baha’i to death”.



Categories: Arab World, Asia, Yemen

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