Yemen accuses Baha’is of converting Muslims

Updated 14 January 2015

Yemen accuses Baha’is of converting Muslims

SANAA: Yemeni authorities have questioned a member of the Baha’i faith suspected of contacts with Israel and charged him with seeking to establish a base for the community in the predominantly Muslim country, state news agency Saba reported.
But the wife of the accused and local rights activists say the charges against Hamed Merza Kamali Serostani are part of Yemen’s wider persecution of its Baha’i community and aim to distract from charges that he was abused by interrogators after his December 2013 arrest.
Saba on Monday quoted a judicial source in the Sanaa prosecutor’s office as saying that 51-year-old Serostani, whose family is originally from Iran, was arrested last year in Al-Mukalla, capital of Hadramout province in eastern Yemen.
The charge sheet said Serostani entered Yemen in 1991 before seeking to bribe Yemenis to leave Islam and join his religion, which it said was represented by the “Universal House of Justice,” the Baha’i global governing council, based in Israel.
The charge sheet said Serostani, under instruction from the council, sought to set up a “national homeland for followers of the Baha’i faith” in Yemen by developing businesses and building housing there for its Arab and east Asian followers.
It said Serostani used a forged name and documents to stay in the country and promoted his religion through charitable work, including literacy lessons.
But his wife on Tuesday denied the charges and said the family had lived in Socotra since 1945, when Serostani’s father arrived on the Yemeni island from Iran as a doctor under British colonial rule and was granted Yemeni citizenship.
She said he was detained in 2013 and was held by state security for more than nine months.
“My husband was tortured to obtain incorrect confessions from him, and (they) asked him to work for the intelligence service and threatened to accuse him of contacts with Israel if he refused,” she told Reuters, adding she was worried about her family.


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 13 November 2019

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.