Over at Gatestone Institute (via RaymondIbrahim.com), I discuss the plight of an invisible minority surrounded by a sea of hostility:
When one thinks of Yemen””the impoverished Arab country that begat Osama bin Laden and is cushioned between Saudi Arabia and Somalia, two of the absolute most radical Muslim nations””one seldom thinks of Christians, primarily because they are practically nonexistent in such an inhospitable environment. In fact, most tallies suggest that Yemen’s entire non-Muslim population is less than one percent.
However, a new Arabic report discusses the existence of Christians in Yemen, and their plight””a plight that should be familiar by now, wherever Christian minorities live under Muslim majorities.
Unofficial statistics suggest that there are some 2,500 indigenous Christians in the nation, practicing their faith underground, even as hostile tribes surround them. According to human rights activist, Abdul Razzaq al-Azazi, “Christians in Yemen cannot practice their religion nor can they go to church freely. Society would work on having them enter Islam.”
He added that, as in most Muslim countries, “the government does not permit the establishment of buildings or worship places without prior permission,” pointing out that Roman Catholic officials, for example, are currently awaiting a decision from the government on whether they will be allowed to construct a building and be officially recognized by the government in Sana.
A convert to Christianity””an apostate from Islam whose life is forfeit and who naturally prefers to remain anonymous, going by the pseudonym, “Ibn Yemen” (Son of Yemen)””expressed his fear of increased pressure on Christians, especially since the “Islamists now represent the dominant political faction, following the Arab Spring and the protests that brought the fall of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.” He added that even though the old regime “was not Islamist, Christians were still subjected to persecution and scrutiny by the police apparatus under that regime. Authorities did not allow us to practice our religion openly or allow us to build a private church, all because of Islam’s apostasy law. What do you think it will be like now that the Islamists are in power?”…