Yemen government upheaval endangers country’s remaining Jews

( Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his cabinet resigned on Thursday after Houthi rebel gunmen held the president hostage in his own residence while demanding concessions on sharing control of the country’s rule. That government upheaval, along with a takeover of the capital city of Sanaa by the Shi’ite Muslim rebels, could spell trouble for the tiny Yemenite Jewish community.

The flag of Yemen. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

“It is clear they are in danger” due to “religious hate” and “extreme Islam,” University of Haifa professor emeritus Yosef Tobi told the Jerusalem Post.

While there were once more than 50,000 Jews in Yemen, less than 100 remain in the capital city, and a similarly small community exists in the northern town of Raida. Most Yemenite Jews have made aliyah to Israel. Currently, the remaining Sanaa Jewish community already lives in a guarded district protected by the current government. Jews had fled to Saana from the town of Saada due to threats from Houthis in 2007. 

In 2008, Yemenite Jewish man Moshe Ya’ish al-Nahari was killed for refusing to convert to Islam. Another Jew in the country, Aharon Zindani, was stabbed in 2012 after being accused of practicing witchcraft.

Last year, supporters of Houthi rebels protested in the streets of Saana chanting, “Death to America! Death to the Jews! Victory to Islam.” 

Posted on January 22, 2015 .