An account of one family’s experience in connection with this story, and study in the effect of sectarian strife among Muslims on subjugated, non-Muslim groups: At best, they become associated with whichever party of Muslims is said to “protect” them, and thus become targets for one or more groups. At worst, widespread paranoia about collaboration can render them altogether un-“protected” by the dhimma contract.
Islamic Tolerance Alert. By Ginny Hill for the Christian Science Monitor:
Sanaa, Yemen – Yahya Yousef Mousa is one of the several hundred Jews still living in Yemen. His grandparents refused to join the mass evacuation to Israel that followed anti-Jewish riots in 1948. Instead, they opted to continue a traditional life that their ancestors had peacefully pursued in Yemen for generations.
But, in January, that peace was shattered when Mr. Mousa was confronted by masked gunmen from a Shiite sect that accused him of spreading vice and corruption. He and his neighbors were told to leave their homes in the northern province of Saada or lose their
All that for selling wine.
Now, Mousa and eight Jewish families from the village of Salem are living in a secure residential compound in the capital, Sanaa. Their expenses are being paid by the Yemeni government, currently battling an armed rebellion mounted by the same Shiite group that threatened the Jews. “We are safe here, but we’re afraid we’ll be killed if we go back to our village,” Mousa says. “We want to stay here until conditions improve.”
Only Mousa’s locks and skullcap visibly identify him as Jewish. He is dressed Yemeni-style in a long, white robe and shawl. He speaks Arabic, even praising Allah for his good fortune to be rescued and housed by Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Yemen’s Jewish minority is clustered in small communities north of Sanaa. They are protected under Yemen’s constitution and identify strongly as Yemeni citizens. Though these good community relations are being tested by the expulsion of the Salem Jews, Mousa is still determined that he and his family will stay in Yemen.
“We haven’t had any help from the Israeli government,” he says. “And if they offer us a home, we will refuse because we are all Yemenis and we want to go back to our village.”
The threats against the Salem Jews are only a symptom of a larger local and sectarian grievances in the Zaydi Shiite heartlands, a remote region close to the border with Saudi Arabia.
An ongoing rebellion
Just days after Mousa and his group fled from Salem at the end of January, a series of skirmishes broke out between Yemeni security forces and the rebels. Fighting has escalated over the past two months, with hundreds dead and aid agencies warning of a humanitarian crisis. Journalists are banned from the conflict zone.