Baha'i community fears deportations by Yemen's Houthis

The Baha'i community voiced fear Monday (October 21st) that a court under Yemen's Houthis (Ansarallah) could order the mass expulsion of members of the faith.

The community said that an appeals court in Yemen's capital Sanaa, which is controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis, is expected to rule Tuesday on a death sentence handed down on religious grounds to Hamed bin Haydara, a Baha'i detained since 2013.

Citing statements by the prosecutor, the Baha'i International Community said it feared the judge would not only uphold the execution but order the deportation of Baha'is from Yemen.

"By such a ruling, he would target and threaten an entire religious community in Yemen -- which wishes for nothing more than to contribute to its nation's progress," Diane Ala'i, a representative of the community to the UN, said in a statement.

She warned Baha'is could face "statelessness and expulsion, confiscation of assets and threat of extermination in the country".

Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, voiced concern about reports that the Houthis were looking to deport the Baha'is or seize their assets.

"We urge them to release arbitrarily detained Baha'is like Hamed bin Haydara and respect religious freedom," he tweeted earlier this month.

Several thousand Baha'is are estimated to live in Yemen.

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