SHAFAQNA – Following decades of a smear campaign against the Houthis – militant group hailing from norther Sa’ada in Yemen – on account they belong to Zaidi Muslim and wish to see the authorities implement principles of religious tolerance and freedom, rights activists have warned that attacks against the Zaidi community are fast becoming systemic.
“Zaidi Muslims and other Shia groups in Yemen are being targeted as many Sunni Yemenis now believe they are apostates. This is a very dangerous and sad development for Yemen as the country has never experienced sectarianism,” Ahmed Samary in Sana’a.
He added, “Wahhabism has gained a strong foothold in northern Yemen over the past decades under the influence of Saudi Arabia and this has meant that more of our youth has been radicalized to a very violent interpretation of Islam. We need to tackle this issue before it is too late as Yemen Zaidi heritage is in danger. Mainstream media are really not helping by always associated Shia Islam to negative sentiments.”
Imams in Yemen have already came in condemnation to sectarianism, warning that this tendency to label other Muslims as apostate is anti-Islamic. “One cannot judge of another Muslim’s faith, such things are left for God to decide. Zaidism is Yemen’s precious religious heritage. It draws from the teachings of Imam Zaid the grand-son of Imam Hussain (AS) and such school of thought should be respected and cherished for the principles of tolerance and compassion it professes. There is no compulsion to Islam. Wahhabism is dangerous deviant. We should pay attention,” emphasized professor Hadi Al Masmari a professor in Islamic Studies.
Earlier this week several Zaidi families in Hadda, a district in Sana’a, the capital were targeted by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their homes were looted and their cars burnt down.
In March, doctors warned that people had been refused treatment in hospitals on account they were Zaidis.