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.


Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

Updated 34 min 23 sec ago

Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

BEIRUT: Three major Lebanese parties have agreed on nominating Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, to become prime minister of a new government, the Lebanese broadcasters LBCI and MTV reported on Thursday.
The agreement was reached in a meeting on Thursday between outgoing Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni politician, and senior representatives of the Shiite groups Amal and Hezbollah.
There was no official comment from the parties or Safadi. The broadcasters did not identify their sources.
Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29 in the face of an unprecedented wave of protests against ruling politicians who are blamed for rampant state corruption and steering Lebanon into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Hariri remains caretaker prime minister for now.
Since quitting, Hariri, who is aligned with the West and Gulf Arab states, has been holding closed-door meetings with parties including the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which had wanted him to be prime minister again.
Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim according to the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.
Mustaqbal Web, a Hariri-owned news website, said a meeting between Hariri, Ali Hassan Khalil of the Amal Movement and Hussein Al-Khalil of Hezbollah had discussed recommending Safadi for the post.
MTV said the government would be a mixture of politicians and technocrats. Mustaqbal Web said the type of government was not discussed, and neither was the question of whether Hariri’s Future Movement would be part of the Cabinet.
LBCI said the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to Hezbollah, had also agreed to Safadi’s nomination.
They did not identify their sources.
Safadi is a prominent businessman and member of parliament from the northern city of Tripoli. He served previously as finance minister from 2011-2014 under prime minister Najib Mikati.
Prior to that, he served as minister of economy and trade in the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who was backed by the West. He held that post again in the Hariri-led Cabinet that took office in 2009.
Hariri had said he would only return as prime minister of a Cabinet of specialist ministers which he believed would be best placed to win international aid and steer Lebanon out of its economic crisis, sources close to Hariri have said.