July 20, 2024
Al-Houthi and the Suppression of Religious Freedom. What’s Next?
Middle East

Al-Houthi and the Suppression of Religious Freedom. What’s Next?

By Adel Al-Ahmadi


Many years after the ado about the violations by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias and their attempt to impose their religious beliefs and prevent their religious opponents from practicing their beliefs, the month of Ramadan this year was different. As it undoubtfully revealed an unprecedented escalation in the attacks against those who disagree with the group’s beliefs.

The picture was clear in the Capital of Sana’a, which is under the control of the militias, where people were surprised by the video recordings documenting Houthi militants as they broke into mosques in Sana’a to prevent people from performing “Tarawih Prayer”. It is one of the recommended types of worship according to the view of Sunni doctrines but is not performed by the Shia doctrines, including the Houthis.

This disagreement on “Tarawih Prayer”, like many beliefs, can be performed by any doctrine or group as long as it does not harm others. It is a basic principle according to the laws and principles of religious freedoms and the foundations for coexistence between different doctrines and beliefs.

Most Yemenis in Houthi-controlled areas do not comply with the group’s doctrinal rules, including racist beliefs that claim the right of its leaders to govern and claim that Islam has given some advantages on an ethnic basis. However, the Houthis’ attempts to prevent people from performing “Tarawih Prayer ” by force are not necessarily a stand against the worship itself, but because performing it proves the fact that the society in the areas under Houthi control does not accept their racist ideas, which not only contradict the religious beliefs of most Yemenis but also clash with international humanitarian principles and laws on equality and other rights.

During Ramadan, the Yemenis witnessed a terrible scene that has never happened in any country, where Houthi militants broke into mosques and turned them into “places to use drugs”, among other things that are violations which even non-Muslims would not practice.

On the other hand, the documented violations are but a small portion of the violations carried out by the Houthis. These violations confiscate all human rights of freedom and religion, which is a serious issue that should call the attention of all local organizations and authorities, as well as international organizations and bodies concerned with defending human rights and freedoms. The silence about these documented violations remains closer to complicity that threatens peace and coexistence, as well as allowing the expansion of the approach of Houthi terrorist attacks against their opponents from all groups.

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