Corpses found in old Taiz mosque [Archives:2005/840/Local News]

May 9 2005

By Zakariya al-Kamali
For the Yemen Times

Taiz- May 7- Before one week, the city of Taiz witnessed a very strange incident when some 30 corpses were found in a narrow vault dating tens of years back.

What is more strange was the inhumane position of the corpses which were piled in a disorganized manner and not towards Kibla in accordance with Islamic jurisprudence.

An ad hoc committee from the Endowment and Guidance Office and the Archeology Office was set up to probe into the find and report on it.

Mr. Abdu Mohammed Hassan, Director of Taiz Endowments, commented saying that on the course of maintenance works done to the mosque, the maintenance team was doing their work in a vault where they found corpses numbering over thirty besides a corpse of a dog.

“The scene was utterly disgusting and workers reported that to the Endowment Office. A committee was set up to investigate the matter headed by Sheikh Nasser al-Shaibani, former Minister of Endowment and Guidance, and members from the Endowment and Archeology Offices,” he added.

The corpses were taken out and shrouded and their families were contacted to come and bury them after making sure of their identity according to mosque keeper and the Endowment Office. Then a big grave was dug in the mosque yard in which they were buried.

Some people say that the grave of Sheikh al-Baihani is the cause of the problem.

“He is a wali (saint) whom everybody wanted to be buried beside his grave to obtain his bless,” said Hassan. This figures as corpses were found a few meters off the grave.

It is said that all corpses are of members of rich families who accepted to pay any amount of money for their dead to be buried beside the wali. Because the area is limited, it is said that the previous mosque keeper used to take the money and bury the dead person. However, as soon as people had left for home, he used to pull the dead out of the space beside the wali's grave and throw it in the vault. The corpses have accumulated into the recently discovered pile.

Director of Taiz Endowment Office stressed that the scene was too hideous and inhumane, but he did not put the responsibility of dumping the corpses into the vault on the mosque keeper especially that he is no longer alive.