ALEXANDRIA: Gunmen shot and killed a Sana’a University professor as he walked out of a friend’s house on Wednesday night in a Houthi-controlled part of the city, residents said.
Mohammed Ali Naeem, who worked in the school’s engineering and architecture department, was pronounced dead at a local hospital following the attack on Tunisia Street in Sana’a.
The assassination was carried out a few hours after he wrote a post on social media demanding the Houthis and the Yemeni government increase the salaries for employees.
After he complained about the depreciation of the Yemeni riyal and the increased price of essential commodities, the Yemeni professor wrote on Facebook: “We demand the government of Sana’a and Aden increase salaries.”
In another post on Wednesday, he wrote: “The revolution is still going on.”
Public servants in Sana’a and other Houthi-held areas in Yemen have not received employment compensation since late 2016 when the Iran-backed rebels stopped paying salaries in response to the Yemen president’s relocation of the central bank headquarters from Sana’a to Aden.
The killing is the latest in a series of drive-by shootings presumably carried out by senior Houthi officials against dissidents and other opponents. Last year, gunmen assassinated Hassan Zaid, minister of sports and youth in the Houthi cabinet.
Citing the Houthis’ handling of the Zaid case, similar assassinations, and the proliferation of armed men in Sanaa, Yemeni activists and critics of the rebels quickly blamed the Houthis on Wednesday for killing the professor.
Sami Noaman, a Yemeni journalist and former Houthi prisoner, told Arab News the rebels are suspected of killing their opponents and critics while only Houthi supporters are given special treatment.
“No one can freely roam around Sana’a carrying weapons other than the Houthi movement’s supporters,” Noaman said.
More evidence that suggests the Houthis’ involvement in the Naeem murder is their handling of the Zaid investigation. In that case, the rebels quickly announced capturing perpetrators in the province of Dhamar, and then the investigation was over.
“In a comical scene, they closed the file within 24 hours,” Noaman said. “The alleged killer was a prisoner. They executed people who had nothing to do with the case.”
Other critics of the Houthis urged the rebels to focus on capturing and prosecuting armed assailants in Sana’a, instead of incarcerating Yemeni activists, artists, actors, and women.
Ahmed Al-Khibi, a judge in Yemen, said the Houthis should be alarmed by the resurgence of assassinations in the country’s capital and divert efforts and attention to securing areas under their control.
“We hold the (Houthi) authority and its security services that are preoccupied with pursuing (women’s) undergarment and artists fully responsible for this crime” and it is their responsibility to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice, Al-Khibi posted on Facebook. He was referring to the recent Houthi crackdown against women, singers, and actors who have been arrested for allegedly violating Islamic norms.
Dozens of Sana’a University students took to social media on Wednesday night to mourn the late professor. Students described Naeem as a “noble” man and an outstanding lecturer.
“No words can describe the extent of the tragedy and sadness of your death,” Ghadir Yahya, a former student, wrote on Facebook.