WASHINGTON: The United States urged Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia to end the mistreatment of members of the Baha’i faith, as Houthi court sentenced believer to death on “absurd” allegations.
The Baha’i community said that Hamed bin Haydara, who has been detained since 2013, will face an appeal hearing on Tuesday in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa.
The US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” that the Houthis have targeted dozens of Baha’is and voiced alarm over accounts that Haydara has endured “physical and psychological torture.”
“This persistent pattern of vilification, oppression and mistreatment by the Houthis of Baha’is in Yemen must end,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
The Baha’i community on Thursday released what it said was the response to Haydara’s appeal, with the prosecutor accusing the faith of being founded on “satanic thought.”
It said that Haydara has also been accused of seeking to create a separate Baha’i homeland on the Yemeni island of Socotra.
“The prosecutor’s arguments do not address the merits of Mr. Haydara’s appeal and instead make absurd, wide-ranging accusations that are not based in law or in fact,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.
He charged that the prosecutor was following the tactics of Iran’s clerical regime, which allows freedom of religion to several minorities but targets the Bahai’s, whose founder the Baha’u’llah was Iranian born in 1817.
The Baha’i faith calls for unity among religions and equality between men and women.
Baha’is consider the Baha’u’llah to be a prophet.