Yemenis protest against Houthis’ destruction of mosques
ADEN // Dozens of Yemeni activists, journalists, victims’ families and imams have staged protests in Taez, Aden and Marib provinces condemning the targeting of mosques, including during prayers, by Houthi rebels.
The protesters accuse the Houthis of destroying more than 750 Sunni mosques in bombing and shelling attacks throughout Yemen during the past two years.
In the southwestern province of Taez, dozens of demonstrators gathered on Tuesday near Al Ashbat mosque, one of 52 mosques to have been destroyed by the Houthis in Taez. And in the northern province of Marib, a similar protest took place by the ruins of Kufel mosque, which was hit by a Houthi rocket last month.
In the southern city of Aden, meanwhile, dozens of protesters gathered at the site of Al Rihab mosque, in Crater district, which was burnt to the ground when the Houthis captured the port city in March 2015. It was later recaptured by pro-government forces.
The protesters raised banners proclaiming that targeting mosques and worshippers inside them is against Islam and is also considered a crime under both Yemeni and international laws.
Mohammed Al Salihi, one of the protesters in Taez, said he condemned the actions of Houthis throughout the country because they have violated all international conventions respecting places of worship.
“The Houthis are killing civilians in mosques because they do not care about human beings or their belongings and they do not abide by the law or by Islam,” he said. “People around the world respect places of worship as safe places. The history of the Houthis is full of wrongdoing against Islam. They have blown up mosques in Sa’ada and Imran provinces before they took over Sanaa and then they continued blowing up mosques in other provinces.”
Sheikh Hussein Abdurrahman, a religious leader from Taez province said the Houthis’ sole aim was destruction, making no distinction between “mosques and military camps”.
Nor would the destruction stop until the country was free of Houthis, he added.
At Al Rahma mosque in Taez city, the imam, Adel Abdullah, told demonstrators that he considered fighting the Houthis to be an Islamic issue.
“Islam asks us to fight those who kill innocent civilians,” he said. “The Houthis do not respect anything. They want to create chaos and kill people everywhere [who don’t share their beliefs].”
It was his duty as a preacher, he added, to warn people of the danger from Houthis, and to stop them spreading their ideology.
Among those protesting in Marib province were the families of victims killed when Houthis fired a rocket on Kufel mosque during Friday prayers on March 17, killing 32 civilians and soldiers and injuring dozens more. Local journalist Salem Al Gadasi said the protest had been coordinated with Aden and Taez to send a strong message to the international community about what the Houthis are doing to mosques all over Yemen.
“There will be more protests and condemnation of the Houthis in future,” he promised.
Updated: April 13, 2017 04:00 AM