Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Houthi Militias Kidnap Imams… Turn Mosques into Barracks, Husayniyahs | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Yemeni man inspects the damage following a bomb explosion at the Badr mosque in southern Sanaa on March 20, 2015. MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Saleh, staged a broad abduction spree, kidnapping Imams of grand mosques in each of Al Hudaydah, Dhamar, Amranand Sanaa.

Imams of nearby mosques were forced to flee in fear of being a victim to militia kidnap and torture.

Imam is an Islamic leadership position and is most commonly in the context of a worship leader of a mosque and Muslim community.

With religious heads being forced to leave their mosques, militias assigned a group of selected Houthi Imams as to promote sectarian bigoted slogans inside the mosques and to complete their transformation to Husayniyahs-a special site where Shi’ite rituals and ceremonies are held.

Even more, the Imams were ordered to hang pictures of Iranian leadership, featuring Iran’s late Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, inside the mosques.

With militias taking hold over local mosques, a large portion of Yemenis were forced to consider leaving town to the outskirts, where they will be able to perform the special holiday prayer for Eid al-Fitr in peace.

Houthi militias alongside the combatants loyal to the ousted Yemeni President Saleh have conveniently transformed some of the great mosques, considered a center for Friday and holiday prayers, into packed military barracks.

Mosques were also transformed into prisons where Houthi militants interrogate those detained.

Observers believe that there is a larger plan in play in which the insurgency plots to alter the demographic constituents of Yemen’s largest cities.

Militias plan to expand their presence beyond Sanaa, in case they ever had to leave their stronghold after conceding to a political settlement in the upcoming period.

Civilian communities in the recently targeted cities are enraged over the sectarian-biased moves taken by the insurgency militias. Many local politicians and military men vowed to respond to having their mosques turned into insurgency hubs.

Yemeni human rights activist Abdul Hafeez Ktama told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the abduction of Imams is directed by a broader agenda, in which the insurgency have installed their own preferred Imams that give ignorant speeches and carry out Iranian propaganda.