Baha’i community fears deportations as Yemen sentence looms

Shoppers at a market in the Yemeni capital Sanaa’s old quarter. The Baha’i community believes its position in the country is in a perilous position. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Baha’i community fears deportations as Yemen sentence looms

  • The community said that an appeals court in Sanaa is expected to rule on a death sentence handed down on religious grounds to Hamed bin Haydara, a Baha’i detained since 2013
  • Citing statements by the prosecutor, the Baha’i International Community said it feared the judge would not only uphold the execution but order the deportation of Baha’is from Yemen

WASHINGTON: The Baha’i community voiced fear Monday that a court under Yemen’s Houthi rebels could order the mass expulsion of members of the faith.
The community said that an appeals court in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, which is controlled by the insurgents, is expected to rule Tuesday on a death sentence handed down on religious grounds to Hamed bin Haydara, a Baha’i detained since 2013.
Citing statements by the prosecutor, the Baha’i International Community said it feared the judge would not only uphold the execution but order the deportation of Baha’is from Yemen.
“By such a ruling, he would target and threaten an entire religious community in Yemen — which wishes for nothing more than to contribute to its nation’s progress,” Diane Ala’i, a representative of the community to the United Nations, said in a statement.
She warned Baha’is could face “statelessness and expulsion, confiscation of assets and threat of extermination in the country.”
Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, voiced concern about reports that the Houthis were looking to deport the Baha’is or seize their assets.
“We urge them to release arbitrarily detained Baha’is like Hamed bin Haydara and respect religious freedom,” he tweeted earlier this month.
Several thousand Baha’is — members of the 19th century faith founded by the Iranian-born Baha’u’llah that calls for unity among religions and equality between men and women — are estimated to live in Yemen.
The Houthis are allied with Iran’s Shiite clerical regime, which restricts the rights of Baha’is despite allowing freedom of religion for Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.


Israel warplanes strike Gaza following rocket fire

Updated 51 min 15 sec ago

Israel warplanes strike Gaza following rocket fire

  • Fighter jets and other aircraft struck a “weapons manufacturing site and underground infrastructures”
  • Hamas reported no casualties from the Israeli strikes on the Nuseirat refugee camp and the southern city of Khan Yunis

JERUSALEM: Israeli warplanes struck suspected Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip before dawn on Friday following rocket fire from the blockaded Palestinian territory.
Fighter jets and other aircraft struck a “weapons manufacturing site and underground infrastructures” operated by Islamist group Hamas, which has controlled the territory since 2007, the Israeli army said.
Hamas reported no casualties from the Israeli strikes on the Nuseirat refugee camp and the southern city of Khan Yunis.
Two rockets had been launched at Israel late Thursday, without causing any casualties or damage.
One was intercepted by Israeli air defenses, while the other hit open ground, the army said.
The last reported rocket attack from Gaza was on Tuesday night.
It came after the army announced it had found a new tunnel that crosses “dozens of meters (yards) into Israel” from Gaza.
The next day the army said the tunnel belonged to Hamas.
Authorities have discovered some 20 tunnels originating in Gaza since 2014, army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said this week.
Israel has fought three wars with Hamas since the Islamists ousted loyalists of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas from the territory in 2007 and there have been numerous smaller flare-ups.
An informal truce brokered by Egypt and the United Nations, with the financial support of gas-rich Qatar, has been in force since late 2018.
It has been broken several times but has been restored on each occasion.