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Yemen’s Houthi Grand Mufti Spreads Hate Speech against Baha'is

June 9, 2023
3 min read
Yemen’s Houthi Grand Mufti Spreads Hate Speech against Baha'is

The Baha’i International Community raised grave concerns after the Houthi’s Grand Mufti Shams al-Din Sharaf al-Din delivered a “bloodcurdling” sermon “filled with disinformation and hate” against Yemen’s Baha’i community.

The June 2 sermon, which lasted over an hour, was predominantly directed at the Baha'i community. 

The sermon was not confined to the mosque but was also disseminated on the internet, further amplifying its impact.

This incident followed a May 25 attack when armed and masked Houthi gunmen stormed a peaceful Baha'i gathering. 

The armed Houthi forces stormed a private residence in Sana’a where Yemeni Baha'is had gathered to elect the national governing body for the Yemeni Baha'i community, according to the Baha'i International Community (BIC), which represents members of the faith worldwide.

Seventeen Yemeni Baha'is were detained and taken away. The de facto Houthi authorities have not responded to the victims’ families’ requests for information, according to IranWire’s information, on the whereabouts of their loved ones. 

While one person has been released, grave concerns persist regarding the well-being and treatment of the remaining detainees, the BIC said.

The Grand Mufti confirmed the arrests of the 17 Baha'is by security services but used this platform to level false and incendiary allegations. 

He claimed that the Baha'i community is supported by foreign powers and accused them of plotting harm against the country.

Bani Dugal, the BIC's Principal Representative to the United Nations, expressed deep concern over the intentions behind such a hateful sermon. 

"What does it say about the intentions of the Houthis when their Grand Mufti devotes an entire Friday prayer sermon to denouncing, demonizing, and spreading vicious disinformation about the peaceful Baha'i community?” Dugal said.

"We know from history that hate speech is the first step when those in power wish to incite violence against at-risk minorities," she added. 

In his sermon, the Mufti said that the Baha'i Faith spreads through the "generous support of Britain, America, and the Jews." He went further to label the Baha'is as "dangerous," accusing them of secretly misleading the people and corrupting young men and women.

The Grand Mufti also made "baseless attacks" on the moral integrity of Baha'is, targeting their family and financial matters. 

This wave of hate speech mirrors the 2018 remarks made by Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, who described the Baha'is as a "satanic" movement engaged in a war against Islam. 

He urged Yemenis to defend their country from this perceived threat, equating those who undermine people's faith to those who commit violent acts.

Dugal criticized the de facto Houthi authorities for fueling insecurity and instability in Yemen by inciting their suffering population against innocent Baha'is. She also emphasized that the Houthis were diverting attention from pressing issues in the country and replicating the tired accusations made against the Baha'is in Iran over the past 44 years. 

“The allegations made by the Houthis mirror those same threadbare accusations made over the past 44 years in Iran which no one any longer believes,” Dugal said. "While governments across the Arab region are striving for peace and looking to the future, the Houthis continue to violate the rights of the Baha’is and many others in Yemen, and by inciting their people against minorities they are driving them into the past and into the ground." 

"The international community responded to last week’s arrests of the Baha’is with outrage; this must now be doubled, tripled and intensified without pause, until all detained Baha’is are freed,” she said.



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