Yemen: Selective or Equal Justice ?

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HubVersion Yemeni Jews.mov (63mb)

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Witnessed: 3381 times

Regions: Yemen

Issues: Racial discrimination, Religion

Tags: Jews, justice, Religion, Yemen

The family of the late Masha bin Yaish.
Press conference held by
HOOD in the Capital of Yemen Sanna'a Monday 02 February 2009 ,
Masha bin Yaish received his Master’s degree in the United States and returned to live in Yemen to teach Hebrew in his native Jewish community in Amran. On 11 Dec 2008, he was shot thirteen times seven of these shots were in the Heart, as he was coming out of his house, leaving behind a wife, 9 children, and his parents, all of whom depended on his work and income for support.
The trial of Masha’s murderer was held under unusual circumstances. The murderer’s family put heavy pressure on the court for his release. Their efforts were bolstered by the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, which has politicized the issue within Yemeni society, making it one of Jew versus Muslim rather than Yemeni versus Yemeni.
In the weeks leading up to the murder, the Yemeni Jewish community received written threats from the accused, with an ultimatum for Yemeni Jews: convert to Islam, depart Yemen immediately, or be killed. Though the threats and murder occurred prior to the attacks on Gaza, the resulting sentiment and mentality have been shaped by the violence between Israel and Gaza, and the killer’s family has been building on the momentum of rising anger and resentment from the attacks to push their case in favor of the accused.
According to Yemeni and Islamic law, the punishment for murder is death, regardless of the victim’s religious beliefs. The law applies to all Yemeni citizens, and in Yemen every citizen has a right to be protected by the justice system. Islam teaches that everyone, including minorities, should be treated equally. The recent events surrounding Masha bin Yaish’s murder can only be considered the first instance in what will most likely be a long chain of oppression and violence.
There are currently about 370 Jews, divided into 50 families, residing in Yemen, the majority of whom live in Amran, a region in the north of the country. The Yemeni Jews are considered an oppressed minority who have had their most basic rights violated, particularly in the last 15 years. Four days after Masha’s murder, a grenade was thrown at the home of Saeed bin Israel, which caused ensuing panic and fear amongst the Jewish population in Yemen. Additionally, Rabbi Yahya bin Yaish received several threatening phone calls and messages. An investigation by security officials, revealed that the sources of these threats were coming from the escorts of influential persons in the governorate of Amran.
When asked why those who were responsible for the threats were not arrested, the response indicated that because they were working with very powerful officials in Yemen, only a direct order from the President would authorize their arrest.
Many members of Yemeni Jewish families have emigrated to the UK, the U.S., and Israel in search of a better quality of life or more often, to escape the persecution faced in Yemeni society. Remittances by those living abroad have become the main income for those who chose to remain in Yemen. This external source of income has allowed the Jewish population to improve their living conditions within their community, which has caused envy and resentment among surrounding towns.
Moreover, the coverage of the recent events in Gaza by Arab media, which failed to take into consideration the number of Jewish people unrelated to the actions of Israel, inflamed tensions and animosity towards this Yemeni minority.
As a protection measure directed by the President, the entire Yemeni Jewish population, including the victim’s family, is now being evacuated from Amran to Sana’a.
In spite of all the threats and pressures they are facing, the family of Masha continues to hope that they will find justice for his murder.

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