Arabic news articles translated

Recent articles in the Arabic news media with provisional translations

29 November 2016 – Al-Hadath International Agency – “Authorities Persecute Bahá’ís on Iranian Instructions”   

[This is a summary translation of an article published on 29 November 2016 in Al-Hadath International Agency—an electronic Iraqi newspaper established in London around 2014; it covers Iraqi, regional and international news, publishes reports and articles, as well as sports, women’s and arts/literature segments. The author’s name is given only as Baher/12]

The article begins by reporting that three months following the Yemeni authorities’ arrest of a number of followers of the Bahá’í religion, the Bahá’ís of Yemen have issued a detailed statement in which they describe and explain the persecution faced by their community in general, and by the detainees in particular.  A picture of the four imprisoned Bahá’ís (below) is given with the caption: “Sons of Al-Saqqáf, Al-Qádirí and Ibn-Haydarah: Bahá’í Detainees in Yemen”. 

The article gives details of the circumstances surrounding their detention, [quoting] at great length from the Bahá’ís’ statement (of which Al-Hadath has a copy).  It mentions the persecution faced by three of the detainees (giving their full names) since their arrest and disappearance more than 90 days ago, as well as the Yemeni citizen Hamid Al-Haydara, who has been detained for three years, was exposed to torture for over a year while being denied any medical attention for his injuries, who has not been formally charged, and whose trial has been repeatedly postponed for over two years by the public prosecutors.  The article further refers to an incident in August when national security forces arrested tens of Bahá’í Yemeni citizens, in a step described by Yemeni human rights organisations and Amnesty International as “a flagrant case of persecution against a religious minority”.  The article then lists the various methods by which the Bahá’ís have been persecuted, in a systematic repression campaign carried out by Sana’a authorities, according to the reports from these human rights organisations.  They have undergone physical and psychological torture, solitary confinement, enforced signing of documents and undertakings under threat, raiding of their homes, imprisonment, and the terrorising of a number of women and children, and in some cases, threats to kill and purify their bodies if they persist in their religious practices.

Other points of interest related in the article and cited from the Bahá’ís’ statement include:

  • The Bahá’ís’ categorical denial of false rumours circulated as part of the campaign against them to besmirch their reputation in society, as well as the charges of “irreligion, joining partners with God, spying for Israel, and polluting the minds of youth with corrupt ideology” levelled at them by the national security apparatus in Sana’a, which they assert are all untrue and trumped-up charges.  The Bahá’ís’ true beliefs and aims are then listed.
  • The article relates the Bahá’ís’ objection to the closure of two properly-licenced institutions, and demands for their re-instatement and the return of their confiscated assets.  These are: “An-Nidá’ (the Call) Institute for Coexistence and Building” and “Al-Tamayyuz (Distinction) Institute” both of which involve a cross section of Yemenis and have been working for a number of years to promote and consolidate peaceful coexistence, national concord, and the elimination of prejudice and violence.
  • The article further cites the Bahá’ís’ call upon the Yemeni regime to lift the oppression meted out to Bahá’ís and other victims of injustice by the National Security with “arrogance, haughtiness and hostility unknown to Yemeni society”, and to return unjustly confiscated documents, passports, and personal as well as community property and monies. Furthermore, it adds that the Bahá’ís’ call upon the government “to annul all forcefully obtained undertakings and assurances that fetter the Bahá’ís in their humane endeavours and services to society, and prevent them from practising their religious rites”.
  • The article points out that the Bahá’ís Faith came to Yemen 170 years ago and estimates its followers at around 2,000 Yemenis at the present time.

To conclude, the article alludes to the role of Iran in the persecution campaign against the Bahá’ís in Yemen, as indicated by a number of media outlets.  This is borne out by the similarity in the approach, methodology and even the charges against them, as employed by the Iranian regime in its current systematic campaign, waged against Bahá’ís in Iran for over 30 years, “to kill and imprison them, confiscate their properties, close down their businesses and deprive them of education”. ]

21 April 2017 – Al Ayam – “Criminal Prosecution targets 20 Bahá’ís, including four women, based on orders from Iran”

On the eve of the Riḍván celebrations, which are celebrated by the Bahá’ís around the world, Ṣan‘á’ was the scene of a new chapter in the effort to persecute and imprison the Bahá’ís and deprive them of their civil rights.  The criminal prosecution by the Houthi and pro-government forces of ousted President Ali ‘Abdu’lláh Saleh, which has been known for its severe and systematic hostility toward the Bahá’ís, issued arrest warrants in the past 24 hours, against 20 Bahá’ís, including four women. The criminal prosecution says that these arrest warrants are linked to the previous wave of arrests on 10 August 2016; nevertheless, the presence of new names [on the list] is a clear indication that there is an intention to target and arrest the Bahá’ís in general.  A number of media outlets have referred to orders from Iran to persecute and imprison the Bahá’ís and [indicated that] that in Ṣan‘á’, the Bahá’ís are being targeted based on orders from Iran.

The prosecutor, Rajeh Zayed, has threatened on more than one occasion, and in front of human rights figures, to hunt down and imprison the Bahá’ís.  He is also behind the imprisonment of the Bahá’í prisoner, Hamid Bin Haydara, who has been in prison for more than three years with no clear charges or explicit evidence.  Rajeh Zayed is also behind the [decision to deprive] Hamid Bin Haydara [of] medical treatment for the severe illnesses he [has been] suffering while in prison, as a result of torture, electric shock and long solitary confinement.  Human rights activists reported that Rajeh Zayed had [refused] to transfer Bin Haydara to hospital for three much needed operations, and said that he would continue to postpone the trial of Hamid Bin Haydara until he dies in prison.

Witnesses have also mentioned the arrest on Sunday of Badí’u’lláh Saná’í, a senior engineer in the Ministry of Public Works, who has been officially honoured several times by the state over the past decades for his contributions in the service of Yemen and the construction of infrastructure and urban planning of the country.  Engineer Badí’u’lláh had received a summons to make an appearance to answer some questions, but he was arrested, and disappeared upon arrival.

It is worth mentioning that the National Security forces of the Houthi ruling forces in Ṣan‘á’ had raided, in August, an event licenced for the service of the community in Ṣan‘á’, and had arrested 68 Yemeni citizens, including children and women, only because they were Bahá’ís, in a move described by a number of Yemeni human rights organizations, including Amnesty [International] as a “blatant case of persecution against a religious minority”.  Reports indicated that the Bahá’ís were subjected to an organized crackdown by the Ṣan‘á’ authorities, including physical and psychological assaults, solitary confinement, being forced and threatened to sign pledges and documents, house raids, the arrest and intimidation of women and children and, in some cases, death threats and physical liquidation.

26 April 2017 – Hespress Moroccan e-news site – “The Bahá’ís of Morocco condemn the arrest of Bahá’ís in Yemen”

The article states the following:

In a statement issued by the Bahá’í community which Hespress accessed, the community states that the accusations against the Bahá’ís included ‘observing good morality and adhering to upright conduct in order to attract people to their religion.’  These accusations are largely similar to those directed against the Bahá’ís in Iran, which is indicative of the influential role of the Iran in what is befalling the Bahá’ís in Yemen.

28 April 2017 – Radio Sawa (Iraqi e-news site) – “Baha'i activist: We do not know why they hate us”

This article is mainly an interview with the Bahá’í academic, Nasrín Akhtarkhávarí, who speaks about the Persecution of the Bahá’ís of Yemen.

The article states the following: 

The activist points out that the accusations against the Bahá’ís in Yemen are the same as those directed against them in Iran.  She spoke of reports indicating the role of Iranian authorities in what Bahá’ís are being subjected to in Yemen.

We find similar behaviour and accusations in the text and content [between the two].  Therefore, we believe that there is an Iranian interference in the arrest of the Bahá’ís, for the Bahá’ís had been living for many years in Yemen in peace with its people.

1 May 2017 – Ababiil and other Yemeni e-news site – “What you do not know about the Bahá’ís in Yemen? – Ababiil Net publishes a comprehensive report”

Criminal Prosecution issued an order to tighten the imprisonment of the Bahá’í, Hamid bin Haydara, and return him to solitary confinement.  Sources confirm that the (strange) argument used by Criminal Prosecution to issue this order is that he is carrying out dangerous activities against the security of the state from inside the prison, and that he is communicating with the outside world!

In a reference to an initiative launched by his sympathizers, which began as “The Official Page in Support of the Freedom of Hamid bin Haydara”, and, owing to the continuous support it received and the hundreds of activists who became its followers, it transformed itself into “The Yemeni Initiative to Defend the Rights of the Bahá’ís”.  Criminal Prosecution is trying to add the charge of running this campaign to the other charges against Hamid bin Haydara, in order to use it to [make] the charge of espionage stick, according to the official responsible for that page.

Amnesty International said that more than 20 Bahá’í men and women were at risk of immediate arrest by the authorities of the Houthi group and the Saleh party in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.  Lynn Maalouf, director of research at Amnesty International’s Beirut office, stated, “The authorities of the Houthi group and the Saleh party must immediately stop the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Sana’a.  The Bahá’ís are detained because of their beliefs, and this appears to be part of a large-scale campaign against the minorities, conducted by the authorities of the Houthis and the Saleh party, which causes whole families live in fear for their safety and the safety of their loved ones—not to mention that they constitute an explicit violation of Yemen’s obligations under the international law.”

Last week, three Bahá’ís were arbitrarily detained, one of whom was subsequently released following public protests and local negotiations.  According to information obtained by Amnesty International, about ten days ago, dozens of members of the Bahá’í community received threats from a member of the Specialized Criminal Prosecution, who threatened to summon them to his office for investigation or else risk being driven out of their homes to the court.  Some of those who received communications were individuals who had been arbitrarily detained in the past.  The children of some members of the Bahá’í community are at risk of being held with their parents, as they have nowhere else to go. 

Note:  On 10 August 2016, 65 Bahá’ís, including six children, were arrested when armed, masked officers from the Yemeni National Security Office, working side by side with the Houthis, stormed a Bahá’í youth workshop in Sana’a.  In addition to that, the Bahá’í Hamid Ben Haydara has been under arrest since December 2013 based on the accusation that he was trying to convert Muslims to the Bahá’í Faith.  He was also accused, among other things, of apostasy, acting on behalf of the Israeli government, and undermining the independence of the Yemeni state, all of which are crimes deserving the death penalty under Yemeni law.  Amnesty International objects to the death penalty in all cases without exception.  Today, the contents of a letter sent to the Houthi authorities in March were published after it was learned that Hamid bin Haydara had been transferred to solitary confinement.

Yemen endorsed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1987, which obliges it to guarantee the right of everyone “to have a religion or belief of his own choosing, and practice his religion in private or with others, in a public or private place”.  Bahá’ís were also persecuted for their religion under former president, ‘Ali ‘Abdu’llah al-Saleh, before the armed conflict began.

Ababiil Net met with the Bahá’í leadership in Yemen, which provided a lot of information about the Bahá’í community, its goals, origin, history and the truth about it.  The moderator in charge of the webpage, For the Defence of the Rights of the Bahá’ís, said in a special press statement, “First, we would like to thank you and all our great Yemeni people.  We also would like to thank Criminal Prosecution and Mr. Rajeh [Zayed], for their decision to transfer Hamid to solitary confinement (despite all the injustice and fabrication of the charges involved) is the biggest evidence of the success of this modest initiative [the webpage].  Activists, the media, and jurists have begun to express their dissatisfaction and rejection of the injustice of Criminal Prosecution and its team (who are supposed to take care of the security of the homeland and its citizens), the baseless accusations against a person who has been in detention for more than three and a half years, and rejecting the injustice committed in the name of security by the Houthi militia.

He added that this charge, owing to which Hamid bin Haydara was returned to solitary confinement (despite his severe ill condition), included three aspects, each of which we will address separately:

First: This accusation includes a clear insult to those who rule Sana’a, and is in itself a clear accusation against the security services, for how can a prisoner in the most important, largest and best-monitored prison in the capital city carry out dangerous or non-dangerous activities against the state (as they claim), and communicate with the world in the East and West, and run an active campaign involving thousands of media and jurists inside and outside the country’s security services [without their knowledge]?  The truth is that to date we had not witnessed accusations that insult the state and its security apparatus this much!  Is it possible for the security services to be so naïve, weak and incompetent that a single person who has been detained for more than three and a half years and who suffers from severe illness and is in pain, and whom they refuse to treat in prison, and more than half of whose hearing has been lost due to brutal torture and electric shock, to conduct such a dangerous campaign that requires the attention of Criminal Prosecution???

The operation of such a campaign and the production of such visual materials requires computers, monitors, scanners and software, in addition to advanced skills in the use of programmes such as Photoshop and its like; do our prisons have such equipment???  This amount of communication and the uploading of files and images would technically require fast internet connection and the special servers; are our prisons equipped with such advanced [technology]?  Praise be to God!!!  Is Hamid bin Haydara really imprisoned in the central prison of Yemen, which can barely provide a drop of water and a loaf of bread and electricity for the prisoners, or is he in one of the hotels in Sweden??!!!

Did those who fabricated such an accusation stop to think for a moment of the magnitude of the dark farce they have plotted?  If this accusation is true, then the authorities need to be tried for having ignored such activities in our prison for so long!  However, if the accusation is not true, then the catastrophe is even greater, for then there is only one explanation as to what happened:  some of those who have been entrusted with justice in Criminal Prosecution and have vowed to defend the truth have been robbing the freedom of the word and exploiting its authority to pressure an oppressed detainee and muzzle the mouths of jurists and media professionals who defend the rights of the oppressed, including the rights of the Bahá’ís of Yemen, who are being targeted and persecuted by National Security and Criminal Prosecution.

Second, the charge also includes a flagrant violation of the freedom of speech and our [activists] endeavours and campaigns.  Since when has the defence of freedom in our country become a dangerous activity which compromises the security of the state?!  And since when has the defence of the right to adopt a religion, which is guaranteed by the Constitution and the International Covenant on Human Rights, become a dangerous act?”

The spokesman For the Defence of the Rights of the Bahá’ís then added, “We, as activists, media professionals and jurists of various components and affiliations, strongly condemn such language and decisions.  We, moreover, would like to stress that the only wrongdoing in the case of the Bahá’ís, which can actually be considered a serious crime that compromises the security of Yemen, is the detention of the innocent women and children, torturing and threatening them, and raiding their homes with no regard for the property of others, while confiscating their belongings and money, simply because they are Bahá’ís.  They are exploiting power and fabricating frivolous charges to carry out a fanatical agenda against one component of the society or another.  We would also like to remind Criminal Prosecution and National Security, since the Holy Book states, “And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.” [Q51:55], that the press is considered the Fourth State that watches, holds others accountable and exposes those who make mistakes; that jurists study the art of defending the word of truth, in order to champion the oppressed and those who are wronged; and that activists are moved by their conscience which believes in the fundamental rights, and in that people in general, regardless of their conflicting opinions or belief, are equal in the sight of the Law.  Therefore, no individual or group can be deprived of their rights based on their specific beliefs and ideologies.  And if you expect anything else from those who are supporting this campaign; you are wrong!  Remember that “Sovereignty is founded on justice.” [Prophet Muhammad].  Thus if you are true in your love for your country and have its best interest in mind, administer justice and call to remembrance the Verse, “O true believers, observe justice when ye appear as witnesses before God, and let not hatred towards any induce you to do wrong: But act justly; this will approach nearer unto piety; and fear God, for God is fully acquainted with what ye do.” [Q5:8]

Third:  (And it is the most dangerous!)  In addition to the serious bodily harm inflicted upon an ill prisoner who was thrown in a solitary cell, [the latest accusation] is clearly pointing finger at a charge previously filed by Criminal Prosecution (with no clear evidence) against Hamid bin Haydara, the charge of espionage and communicating with outside.  What accusation is psychologically, socially and legally more serious than this?!  For those who do not know the historical background of the case of Hamid bin Haydara, it should be noted that National Security kidnapped Hamid from his workplace in 2013, imprisoned him for almost a year while no one knew his whereabouts or who had kidnapped him.

During that period, Hamid was subjected to the most severe torture and his property and money were confiscated.  At that point, the charges were hovering around his property and trade.  When human rights organizations were able to find out where he was detained, revealed the identity of his captors and exposed the property issue [being the motive behind his arrest], the accusations suddenly turned into that Hamid was a leader who was trying to establish his own state.  Over time, as Prosecution failed to provide any real evidence in support of this strange accusation, the main charge against him was transformed into espionage and communication with the outside world.  To date, Criminal Prosecution has not yet been able to provide real evidence to prove its charge against him, and thus has repeatedly procrastinated and postponed the verdict; in order to keep the persecuted citizen, Hamid bin Haydara imprisoned for more than three and a half years with no concrete evidence.

Unfortunately, this injustice was not enough, and Criminal Prosecution insisted that he should not be released from prison on bail.  He was even denied hospitalization for his serious health condition as a result of the physical torture he received at the hand of National Security in prison.  Human rights activists have testified that Mr. Rajeh Zayed has said that he had the intention to prolong Hamid’s deprivation of his legal rights and prolong his imprisonment until he dies in prison.  Thus, he is now accused of espionage, and they argue that he is communicating with the House of Justice, which is the Supreme Body of the Bahá’í Faith, located in Haifa, and consider that as dealing with the enemy.  There is no need here to mention the historical details surrounding the Bahá’í holy places in ‘Akká and Haifa or the edict of the Ottoman Muslim Caliph, Sultan Abdul Aziz, who imprisoned and confined them in ‘Akká and Haifa in the past.

The question is whether a Yemeni Muslim citizen who listens to a Friday sermon from the Dome of the Rock, or visits an Islamic website in Jerusalem to inquire about a sermon or a legitimate other query, or sends or receives an e-mailed sermon or fatwa issued by a reference in Jerusalem, is considered a spy.  Is the communication of a Muslim with the mufti of Jerusalem or the communication of a Christian with the priests of Bethlehem considered a communication with the enemy of the state??  If a Christian receives a copy of an address by the Pope, will this letter be classified as a direct communication between the Pope and this Christian?  And if a Yemeni Muslim in Sana’a sent a religious question to a sheikh in Jerusalem or Mecca, and then received an answer to his question of jurisprudence, would he have committed a political crime??  And if a Muslim sends a message to a sheikh in Jerusalem asking him to pray for him and his family at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, is he considered a correspondent with the enemy??  Why, then, are the Bahá’ís considered spies and agents?  The answer is as clear as the sun.  As such, Criminal Prosecution—without realizing it—has created a serious problem for itself by accusing Hamid bin Haydara of espionage and suggesting that other Bahá’ís, whether young or old, are spies for Israel. 

Without realizing it, you have transformed the case into a matter which is subject to public opinion, which is now demanding that you not haphazardly direct accusations at others.  However, Criminal Prosecution should not be bothered by this public interest, for it is the one that has invited people to ask, “Are the Bahá’ís spies?”  Similarly, Criminal Prosecution and National Security should not be surprised at our observation regarding the similarity between the charges against the Bahá’ís in Sana’a and the charges against the Bahá’ís in Iran, at a time when Iran’s voice has been heard by some in Yemen.  Criminal Prosecution might have done well in bringing this dangerous matter to the surface, so that the truth would become clear.

[The rest of the article is the text of an interview that was held with Hamid in December 2016.  The translation of the interview posted previously on follows]

This information is published for the first time

The leader of the Bahá’ís in Yemen reveals details of his life, his United Arab Emirates [UAE] nationality, and his connection to Iran

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

From his prison cell in the capital city, Sana’a, in an interview with Al-Mushahid, the leader of the Bahá’ís in Yemen, Hamed Kamal Bin Haydara, discloses astonishing information about himself, the hassle about his nationality, and other accusations against him.

Al-Mushahid newspaper had previously published an investigative report about some leaked documents from Bin Haydara’s case file, which is being brought before the Special Criminal Court.  This report triggered several questions, but no clear answers.

In this interview, which is the first of its kind, the Bahá’í leader narrates how he obtained his UAE nationality after he left Socotra as a little boy with his parents, following the Communist rule in the South. He discloses the secret behind his joining the UAE army, and the mystery surrounding his case.  In addition, the Bahá’í leader removes the veil [concealing] his personality, his connection with Iran, and with the headquarters of the Bahá’í religion in Israel.  He talks about the reasons for his imprisonment and trial, and what he has suffered in the National Security jail in Sana’a over a period of nine months of undisclosed confinement.

Text of the interview:

-  To start, how would you introduce yourself?

-  First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to you for your interest in my case, and your care in gathering information from various sources, and I hope to be able to respond adequately to your questions. Now, to your question of who I am, I am Hamed, son of Dr. Kamal Mohammad. He was the first doctor in Socotra, which was a remote and primitive island in the 1940s, when my late father settled there.  My father [served as] King ‘Issa Bin Ali Bin Afrar’s family doctor, in addition to treating the inhabitants of Socotra.  He was known among the people for his moral rectitude and his good treatment of the locals. The king granted him Yemeni citizenship as a token of his appreciation for my father’s services, in addition to giving him the title of “Bin Haydara”, indicating that he had become a member of the community.  My father lived in Socotra for many years, during which his children, Ala, Hoda, Elham and Hamed (I) were born.  His immigration to UAE was not as a result of deportation, but a natural move, owing to the Communist rule in the South.  We moved with the king’s family to the UAE; this happened before the establishment of the UAE as a united entity. As a result of this move, my father established himself there as a doctor and lived in accordance with the same moral principles that he was known for in Socotra.  He was loved by the locals and they embraced him with their natural generosity and love.  Allow me here to explain the basic differences between my father’s name in his Yemeni documents and his name in Farsi—an issue used by some to arouse suspicion.  You know that my father is of Iranian origins. It was the practice in the old days to revere the oldest son by adding the prefix “Mírzá” to his name, so, in truth, the word “Mírzá” in my father’s name is not a part of his name. Also, the word “Sarvestani” is not a family name. It only indicates that my father’s family came from Sarvestan. When the king of Socotra and Al-Mahrah granted citizenship to my father, the additional “Mírzá” and “Sarvestani” were taken out, and the king instead gave him the title of “Bin Haydara”. I wanted to explain this issue since some people try to confuse the public by saying that I have two different names.

-  Why have you been brought before the Court?

-  I was arrested at the place of my work at Natural Gas Company, in Belhaf, Shabwa Province, for no apparent reason.  I was kept at the National Security Detention Centre for nine months under torture while neither my family nor any of my acquaintances knew of my whereabouts.  I was tortured to force me to confess to belonging to a large group, and I kept asking what this large group was. They beat me and electrocuted me, in addition to [inflicting] psychological torture over many months, hoping to extract some kind of a confession from me, but I refused.  I am a Bahá’í and I don’t belong to any political group, party or system.  Then they told me that I promote the ideas of a large group called Bahá’í International Community. I laughed at hearing this and told them that this is my religion and my belief, and I am proud to be a part of the Bahá’í community, just as any believer of any religion is proud of his beliefs. 

UAE citizenship:

-  Documents show that you are a UAE national, and the Penal Court says you are an Iranian national, while you say you are a Yemeni national.  What is the truth?

-  I obtained the UAE nationality after my father and family settled there, since we were residents before the establishment of UAE. I don’t deny that I am from an Iranian background, but I am a Yemeni from a Yemeni family that was honoured by the king.  Yemen is my and my father’s homeland; Yemen is where I was born. 

-  How can you prove that you are a Yemeni national while there are proofs of your being a UAE national, especially since all the documents indicating your Yemeni nationality were issued after 1991, i.e. several years after your UAE documents?

-  My ID card proves that I am a Yemeni, and before me, my father was a holder of Yemeni nationality. I was born in Socotra. By God, what more does a Yemeni have to do to prove he is a Yemeni? Yes, I did live away from Yemen for some years of my life as millions of Yemenis did, due to the situation of the South during the Communist rule, and I doubt that this is considered a crime, or that my family was the only one that did so.  Naturally, when I got back to my country, Yemen, in 1991, I renewed my documents following the unity between the North and the South, which is what many expatriate Yemenis did.

-  How did you obtain your UAE nationality?

-  As I mentioned before, following my father’s move to the Emirates with the king after the Communist rule in the South, he settled there prior to the unity between the seven countries that now constitute the UAE.  He was well known there for his kindness and loyalty and his good reputation among the populace.  He was rewarded by being granted the UAE nationality by the late Sheikh Maktoom, who is well known for his uprightness.

-  Are you still on UAE Army’s payroll?

-  I thank you for this question, which needs some clarification.  The issue of the military card is not what people think it is. I was not a part of the military apparatus of the UAE.  What happened was that during the Gulf War, a general call was made to all the UAE youth to join in defending the homeland. My participation was through medical services, such as dressing wounds, cleaning the army camps, preparing food, and construction, which I did as a volunteer in the camps. At the end of the war, all the volunteers were honoured, and I was among them. Thus, it is not correct that I was a soldier in the UAE army or that I received or receive a stipend from the army.

-  In November 2000, you informed the Nasser Police Station, and also announced in Al-Thawrah newspaper that you had lost your UAE passport.  Why were you so attached to your UAE nationality when you had already become a Yemeni?

-  Let me correct some misinformation in this question. First, I reported to the police that my briefcase had been stolen from my car. In it were my Yemeni ID card, my UAE passport, and some other documents. Why do people insist that I only reported my stolen passport, and not my ID card?  As they say, telling a half-truth is worse than telling a full lie. Second, I resent your words, “although you’d already become a Yemeni”. I have not become a Yemeni, I am a Yemeni by birth and upbringing. I have been a Yemeni national from the first breath of my life. The claims that I was naturalized or that I obtained the Yemeni nationality at a later stage in my life are fabrications and contrary to the truth, and they are meant to mislead public opinion.  Third, does the law prohibit having two nationalities or holding two passports? Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis hold more than one nationality; why has it become a crime in my case? Besides, is it wrong for a person to hold onto a passport that he has obtained legally? This is another case of distortion of facts to mislead the public.

Connection with Iran:

-  Do you still have any connections with Iran, given that your parents are from there?

-  A brief reply to your questions is: No.  I was born in Yemen into a family who held Yemeni nationality.  I grew up in Yemen, moved to the UAE, and then returned to Yemen.  My birthplace, my life, my upbringing, my studies, my work, my business, were all within this framework. Besides, I have never travelled to Iran. I respect and appreciate the Iranian nation in the same way that I love and appreciate all the peoples of the world. My religion teaches me that we are all leaves of one tree, the tree of humanity. The only common denominator that I can think of is that I was imprisoned and tortured in my homeland because I am a Bahá’í, and have been tried for my beliefs in the same way that happens to the Bahá’ís in Iran, and this is a similarity which I do not like, since Yemen is known historically for its diversity and the Yemenis are known for their wisdom and tolerance and their nobility. I am surprised to see these events happening here, but I do believe in the fairness of the Yemeni justice system and that it will treat me with justice, God willing.

-  Isn’t your wife Iranian?  Doesn’t she still have her Iranian nationality?

-  First, there is nothing in the law that prevents one from marrying [someone] of another nationality.  Marriage is based on finding a virtuous partner to share one’s path in life, in addition to that which God inspires in hearts of love and affection, and these are matters which are not governed by nationality, but by values.  Second, yes, my wife is from a Persian background, which is neither a crime nor a flaw.  She obtained Yemeni nationality 15 years ago, and her Iranian passport has not been renewed since, despite our law allowing it. My wife obtained her naturalization certificate in accordance with the rules and regulations of this country and was granted her card and passport in Sana’a. Third, I would like to emphasize that questioning my nationality and all the details pertaining to it since my birth to date, and trying to link everything to this matter, including the background of my wife, is pointless and against the law, and in violation of our Constitution and human values. What is being done to me is not only an insult to me personally, but [also] an insult to all the rules and regulations and the institutions that granted this nationality. 

The Bahá’ís in Yemen:

-  About the Bahá’í Faith, the Yemenis had not heard of it before.  Where was it until recently and where does it stand in relation to the beliefs of the Yemeni people?

-  [The fact of] not having heard about our Faith does not mean that it did not exist in Yemen. Naturally, it was not heard of in the past, compared with the present, due to means of communication and media. Yemen has been connected to the Bahá’í religion for more than 170 years. The Port of al-Mukha welcomed the Báb on His pilgrimage to Mecca. In addition, Bahá’ís have lived in both the North and the South for many decades, and many have been active in various fields. There are thousands of Bahá’ís in Yemen today, and you can refer to historic sources to [confirm] this fact.

-  How do you explain the recent measures taken by National Security against the Bahá’ís in Sana’a?

-  They are arbitrary and unjust and something that we had not seen in Yemen before.  True Yemeni values do not allow insulting women and detaining women and children, and raiding homes with no respect for its people.  These are behaviours that are foreign to our society, and no doubt they are caused by misunderstandings and misconceptions that aim to mislead the community.  It seems that the Bahá’í principles that call for peace, love, tolerance, and high moral rectitude, and which renounce fighting and carrying weapons, and political and partisan conflicts, have not been favoured by those who insist on hate and conflict to further their interests.  I believe that these principles are the remedy to the problems of this age and its sectarian conflicts and war.  These principles are like light, and naturally, he who loves darkness would not tolerate light.

-  Why did the security apparatus cease its tough treatment of the Bahá’ís?

-  This is a question that you need to ask them. I guess my answer to your previous question may hold a portion of the answer.

Communications with your religion’s headquarters:

-  How do you communicate with your religion’s headquarters in ‘Akka?

-  Our connection is basically spiritual, since ‘Akka is the Qiblih for all the Bahá’ís, and it has a special place in our hearts, exactly as Mecca has a special place in our hearts and the hearts of all the Muslims.

Accusations regarding the creation of a national homeland for the Bahá’ís:

-  What do you say about the accusation that the Bahá’ís are trying to create a homeland for themselves in Yemen?

-  There is a proverb which says that a lie can be detected by its size.  By God, what homeland are you talking about?  How can a person like me establish a homeland? Whoever fabricated this lie has no clue about the Bahá’í teachings, which prohibit partisan politics and meddling in political affairs, conflicts and wars, and encourage all to serve their country and sacrifice for its wellbeing and the wellbeing of its communities.  Bahá’ís are found all over the world, and their high moral standards are known to all.  This accusation is as far as it can get from reality.  I am from Socotra, and I love my homeland and am proud of it, but let us just say that there were a group who wanted to create a national homeland; do you think it would choose a little island which can only house a small number of people, an island that experiences various tornadoes and storms six months of the year and is difficult to get to in any season?  There is a proverb which says that if the speaker is crazy, the listener should be wise.  I totally refuse to allow my love towards my homeland to be interpreted in such way. It is natural for me to love Socotra dearly; don’t we all have a special feeling for our birthplace?  When I returned to Yemen, I did my best to serve my country and my countrymen.  I lived in it for many years, during which [time] I built the runway to its airport and also several governmental facilities. I feel that this is my duty towards my country, a feeling that I inherited from my late father, who loved Yemen and this island. I live according to his wishes to serve the people of Socotra.  I would like to add that the people of Socotra enveloped me with their love, generosity and gratitude.

Bahá’í prayers and the Qiblih:

-  The Bahá’ís have three obligatory prayers that they perform each day, facing ‘Akká.  Isn’t it so?

-  Yes, our Qiblih is “the Blessed Shrine” and it is in ‘Akká, and the Bahá’ís all over the world turn towards it in prayers.

-  The headquarters of this religion being in Israel presents the security and intelligence apparatus with many questions, particularly since Israel is considered an enemy, and your communications with your headquarters under any pretext lists you as an enemy, although the principles of the Bahá’í Faith reject any activity against the government.  What is your comment on this?

-  What has the Qiblih got to do with political differences?  Some Yemenis disagree with their neighbour; does this mean that they should change their Qiblih? Mixing issues in this manner does not lead to truth, but distorts it. The Al-Aqsa mosque is in Israel, does this lessen its importance?  Have the Muslims closed their mosques and their centres in Jerusalem because it is occupied by Israel?  We have to return to history to understand that the Ottoman Empire (the Islamic Caliphate) was the authority which decreed the imprisonment of Bahá’u’lláh, and then banished Him to the prison of ‘Akká, where He remained until the end of His Life. This, of course, was long before the establishment of Israel.  If some people have any objection to this matter, they should raise it with the Ottoman Caliphate and the clergy who planned this and imprisoned a Messenger of God Who brought a message of peace and love, equality of all people, and rejection of all prejudices and sectarianism, and Who called for a stop to all wars and conflicts. We are Yemeni citizens; we love our country and wish the best for it. We wish to serve it, and our allegiance is to our country. We have no political affiliations with Israel or any other country.  It is natural for the followers of any religion to have an emotional and spiritual connection with its holy places and the Qiblih, and this has no political implications. History shows us that countries and political conditions change, but religious and historical sites remain and do not change. The land of Palestine is historically connected to all the religions of the past and was trodden by the Prophets and Messengers of God, and has been honoured with many religious sites, and this is a historical fact which politics cannot change.

-  How does Israel treat the followers of the Bahá’í Faith?

-  I have never been to Israel to [describe] to you how the treatment is. However, what I know is that all the Bahá’ís who are currently living there are those who serve at the Bahá’í holy places in ‘Akká and Haifa. These places are universal religious locations, accepted by international agencies and organizations. They require people to maintain them and take care of the administrative functions. As far as I know, there are no other Bahá’ís in Israel but those who serve in the holy places and live in these two cities.

Some suspicions:

-  There are some who say that your case is neither related to espionage nor related to your being a Bahá’í, but that you had major financial misunderstandings with leaders in high places in the country.  How would you comment on this?

-  Briefly, I am a peace-loving person and have no enemies. Besides, all the accusations levelled against me concern my beliefs.

-  Why are you in court if all the accusations against you are malicious lies?

-  My brother!  I am not the first one against whom malicious lies have been levelled.  So this should be no surprise to you. Unfortunately, when hate, sectarianism, and fanaticism penetrate some hearts, they are prepared not only to direct spiteful accusations at others, but also to falsify history. What evidence do you need more than the detention and torture that I have faced for almost one year, and which is against all the laws of Yemen? The law says that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, and I have been imprisoned for the third year without a verdict. The law prohibits forcefully hiding someone, and I was detained at National Security for nine months while my family was looking for me. The law prohibits the use of torture, and I have been exposed to insults, assaults, torture and electrocution, and I have been injected twice with some materials—God knows what they contained.  I still suffer from the aftermath of these tortures.  I have lost hearing in one ear from the severe beatings, and I have been in dire need of two surgeries for the last year and have not received any treatment.   Don’t the local and international laws to which Yemen is a signatory ask for freedom of thought and beliefs?  Where is my case in all this? All these indicators show the oppression that has been levied on me. If the prosecutor has one proof of that which I have been accused of, why has he broken the law in so many instances?

Bin Haydarah’s projects:

-  What is happening with your investment projects?

-  My dear, I have been a prisoner for three years without a trial, and have been subjected to torture and still suffer from its aftermath.  I have been asking for more than a year for medical treatment for the injuries caused by jail and torture to no avail, and you ask me about my projects and my investments? I believe in the decree of God and His Will, and my project right now is to prove my innocence and defend the rights of my family which is left without a provider, which has been harmed and deprived of the means of sustenance.  My project is to see justice served in my beloved country.

-  How have you been treated in prison? Are you allowed any visitors?

-  I prefer not to respond, owing to my current situation. I remind all of the mercy of God.

-  What would you like to say to the authorities?

-  I would like to remind them of the verse, “O true believers, if a wicked man come unto you with a tale, inquire strictly into the truth thereof; lest ye hurt people through ignorance, and afterwards repent of what ye have done” [49:6]. And I would like to remind those with hate in their hearts that the Lord is just, He is patient, but He does not neglect, and that history does not forget. I also hope that those who are overseeing my case will see the truth with their own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and ponder with hearts clear of prejudice and pre-judgments.

-  Your last words?

-  My last words: “God is greater than every great one”.