By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel -
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have tried to get rid of all the Jews and Bahai’s in areas they control, and now they are going after the Christians, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Wednesday.
The majority of Yemeni Christians have already fled the war-torn country and the number of Jews in Yemen has been dropping with the Houthis deporting the last two remaining families from the city of Sanaa, which used to be Yemen’s capital city until the Houthis took it over in 2014.
The Houthis do not tolerate followers of any other religions and the militia, designated a terror group by the Trump administration, has already expelled the leaders of the Baha’i sect. Another 19 other Baha’is are standing trial on trumped up charges because they are not Shiites.
The Houthis are known for their rabid anti-Muslim and anti-western ideology, which specifically targets Jews. Their slogan is “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.”
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthis have recently been switching their focus to Christians, arresting several, including priest Musheer Khulaidi, 50, who has been held by the terror group for four years where he has been tortured in jail.
Houthi intelligence operatives are apparently investigating other figures to determine their religious beliefs. Recently released prisoners and friends of Christians said the Houthis have been cracking down on Yemenis whom they suspect of being Christian.
Khulaidi’s family has refused to comment for fear the priest would be tortured again. Several of his relatives have fled Houthi-held territory to escape from Yemen, while others have moved to regions still under the control of the government, the report said.
A recently released prisoner told the paper he met Khulaidi in jail along with others who were detained just because they are Christians, and some of the jailed Christians were forced to give up their Christianity under the threat of torture.
Before the Houthi takeover of Sanaa, Christians in the city practiced their religion in secret, with most of the 2,000 Christians from Sanaa and neighboring cities having since fled Yemen to other countries.
The report said Houthi leader Khaled al-Madani is in charge of weeding out “signs of westernization.” In addition to cracking down on Christians, his duties include monitoring businesses where women are allowed to work, controlling dress codes and preventing co-ed mixing at universities.
However, the Islamist attacks on Christians did not start recently.
Human Rights Watch reported that several years ago Islamist attackers burned the contents of a Christian library in the city of Taiz and in the fall of 2015 they blew up two of the four churches in Sanaa.
On March 4, 2016, four gunmen entered a Christian-run retirement home in the city of Aden and killed at least 16 people, including guards, drivers, cooks, and four nuns. The gunmen destroyed all the Christian symbols and liturgical articles at the home, but the residents who were not Christian were left unharmed.