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.


Turkey’s Erdogan takes on former ally with foundation takeover

Updated 21 min 9 sec ago

Turkey’s Erdogan takes on former ally with foundation takeover

ANKARA: The Turkish government has taken over the management of a foundation set up by a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as hostility between the two men heats up.
Erdogan is punishing Ahmet Davutoglu, who is also former prime minister, for breaking away from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and launching a new rival party to appeal to  disillusioned voters.
Davutoglu co-founded the Foundation for Sciences and Arts (BSV) in 1986, but on Tuesday it was taken over by a government ministry-affiliated body.
The BSV said the decision was “arbitrary” and a “dangerous initiative.”
The government recently appointed a government official to the privately-owned Istanbul Sehir University, which is also affiliated with Davutoglu, after it failed to pay back loans to state-run Halkbank.
But Davutoglu has come out swinging despite the setbacks to his legacy. This week he criticized the government’s handling of the economy, alleging that Erdogan's team was manipulating inflation figures to paint a rosy picture.
“Think about a doctor who tells his patient that he is fine by changing his test results. The patient says ‘I'm dying,’ but the doctor says, ‘Look at the figures, your test results are fine.’ The economic administration in Turkey is doing precisely the same,” the former prime minister said.