US presses Yemen's Houthis to drop Bahai charges



Gunmen aligned with the Iran-backed Houthis stand guard in Houthi-controlled Sanaa on May 31st. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

The US has urged the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) to drop charges targeting Yemen's Bahai community, which has reported that 24 of its members will face a new trial session on Tuesday (February 25th).

US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom Sam Brownback voiced concern at reports that a court in Houthi-controlled Sanaa is again summoning the Bahais who in 2018 were slapped with charges that include apostasy and espionage.

"We urge them to drop these allegations, release those arbitrarily detained, and respect religious freedom for all," he said in a social media post.

According to the Bahai community, one member among the 24 to be tried Tuesday -- five of whom are already detained -- said that a prosecutor made clear that his detention was due to his religion.

"The Bahais that are held in Sanaa are innocent and the physical and mental torture they are experiencing is designed to force them to admit to crimes they have not committed," said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Bahai International Community, in a statement.

The Houthis are allied with Iran's clerical regime, which restricts the rights of Bahais despite allowing freedom of religion for Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.

Several thousand Bahais are estimated to live in Yemen. Among them is Hamed bin Haydara, who was sentenced in 2018 to execution with appeals in his case under review.

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May God damn the Houthi apostates!