In Sana’a, Hajja and SaadahZaidi clerics persecuted [Archives:2005/812/Local News]

January 31 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
Dr. Sheikh Al-Murtadha Zaid Al-Muhatwari, director of Badr Centre for Islamic Studies expressed his deep sorrow over arrests and the pursuit of some Zaidi clerics especially in Sana'a and Saadah, a province northwest Sana'a, for celebrating Al-Ghadir Day (The Day of the Brook), one of the religious festivals of the Shi'ite.

He told the Yemen Times, “What does it mean when the state prevents the celebration of a religious occasion which Muslims have been celebrating since ancient in history all around the world? Where is religious freedom and the freedom of faith claimed by Yemeni officials?”

He further exclaimed: “Why are we denied conducting our own religious rituals in Yemen while all other religions and creeds are practicing theirs including Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism? Why is this hostile stand against Zaidism (a sub-sect of Shi'ite)?”

Dr. Muhatwari added, “We know well who benefits from this hostile stance and mischief against Zaidism. They aim to strike at the national solidarity. They are the Wahabi groups besetting the president and the prime minister. It is they who implant troubles and crises in this country, not only now, but since long ago. If they keep doing the same thing, the country would fall down the brink.”

Fiery his statement was, yet he was hopeful that president Saleh's wisdom would contain the situation and “give directives to address the problem.”

Well-informed sources, who spoke on condition of unanimity, supplied the Yemen Times with names of religious figures detained to pledge not to celebrate the Ghadir Day.

The data says: “On January 22, a number of Sana'a mosque imams and preachers, including clerics Abdul-Karim Allahiji, Hafidh Al-Sayyani and Mohammed Al-Ghaithi, were summoned to the headquarters of the Political Security (national intelligence body) to promise not to celebrate the Ghadir Day.”

According to the same sources, security elements stormed the Zahra'a Woman Awareness Center in the old city of Sana'a, which is managed by scholars Mohammed Al-Mansour and Hamoud Al-Moayad. The security was led by head of the Penal Prosecution. They ransacked the center, seized several documents and shut it down. They also screamed abuse at women.

The list extends to cover Hajja province where, the sources said, cleric Hassan Al-Na'ami and student Yasser Al-Khazzan were arrested for allegedly preparing to copy a religious pamphlet to be distributed on the Ghadir Day. A number of other religious personalities were summoned by deputy governor of the province who forced them to write down pledges not to celebrate the occasion in the future.

And in Saadah, where the situation is fiercest, security and military forces were deployed in many areas. Checkpoints were set up on roads and in densely-populated zones, particularly those which saw the clashes between followers of Hussein Badr Addin Al-Houthi and state's forces, causing thousands of deaths from among civilians and the armed.

The September 26 Newspaper, organ of the military forces, published a decision it described was issued by an official, to prohibit celebration of the Ghadir Day on the basis that such a festival is contrived is not originated in the Islamic Holy Book or Sunna.

The sources quoted the newspaper as saying: “The so-called Ghadir Day is one of the destructive notions alien to the Islamic creed and the Yemeni people who adhere Allah's Book and the Prophet's Sunna. The Yemeni people reject any practices incongruous with their convictions. Besides, such practices engenders mischief and breaks national unity.”