Anger in Yemen after Saudi-backed militias demolish 700-year-old mosque in Al-Hudaydah
The militias are not the only ones that demolish mosques; the Saudi-led coalition also launched airstrikes against a number of mosques completely demolishing them.
Saudi-backed militias demolished on July 8, 2022, Al-Noor Mosque in Al-Qataba area of Al-Khokha District in Al-Hudaydah Governorate, causing anger among government institutions and non-governmental organizations.
The General Authority of Awqaf condemned on July 9 the demolition of parts of Al-Noor Mosque by "elements affiliated with the terrorist organization of Al-Qaeda."
In a statement, Awqaf denounced the actions of Al-Qaeda elements, led by a member of the Saudi-formed “Presidential Council”, Abu Zara’a Al-Maharami, which resulted in the demolition of parts of the mosque that dates back to 700 years.
The Mosque's construction dates back to the history of the Rasulid state that ruled Yemen from the 1200s to the 1400s. The Mosque was an ordinary building topped with domes.
The militias of Al-Maharami are Saudi-backed Salafis who come from the southern governorates of Lahj and Abyan that had demolished mosques and shrines west of Taiz and southern Al-Hudaydah, as part of their campaign, "mission to fight polytheism."
Demolition of domes, minarets
Mohammed Maodhah, a journalist based in Al-Hudaydah, said the last time he visited Al-Noor Mosque was "before these militias took over the Al-Khokha District" in December 2017.
"It is a historical and archaeological mosque. Its construction dates back to 700 years ago," said Maodhah.
He noted that he has spoken with residents of Al-Qataba's area where the Mosque is built and found them "angry at the tampering of their ancient mosque."
"The mosque's domes, minarets, and large parts of the roof were destroyed. There was nothing left in it except the ablution places [bathrooms] that are separate from the mosque and built recently," Maodhah told Al Mayadeen English.
In 2020, the Ministry of Endowments and Guidance held a press conference on April 16 in Sanaa during which it accused the US-backed Saudi coalition of destroying 1,052 mosques and religious schools across Yemen including 88 in Al-Hudaydah Governorate.
101 people working with the Ministry were killed during these attacks, said the Ministry.
In the early days of the Saudi aggression, the Saudi coalition launched several airstrikes in May 2015 against the shrine of Ansar Allah movement's founder Sayyed Hussein Al-Houthi in Saada Governorate, completely demolishing the shrine and turning it into rubble.
Wahhabi ideology & ISIS
No UN organization has condemned the demolition of Al-Houthi's shrine and other historical Mosques by the Saudi airstrikes although they were similar to the shocking destruction of shrines in Syria and Iraq by ISIS.
Maodhah, Al-Hudaydah-based journalist said the Saudi-backed "militias were founded on the rejection of the other when the other does not follow the directives of the uninvited Wahhabi culture to the Yemeni people coming from Najd and Al-Hijaz [Saudi Arabia] as a religious terrorist trend that constitutes a lever for the rule of the Al Saud family."
"These militias view mosques and shrines as being outside the religion [polytheists] according to their concept of religion," Maodhah told Al Mayadeen English.
He stressed that the Wahabi ideology is summed up in "murder and self-destruction that God has forbidden, demolishing mosques and blessed shrines, and carrying out any abhorrent act that has nothing to do with our true Islamic religion."
"Without any doubt, Saudi Arabia has founded and trained these militias and supported them with weapons and money," Maodhah said. "As a sectarian orientation, it [the kingdom] is the one that spawned these terrorists who follow the Wahhabi takfiri ideology of ISIS."
"The demolition of mosques and shrines is a result of a Saudi tendency that will have dangerous consequences in the future," he explained.
Ansar Allah-led National Salvation Government has reacted to the demolition of Al-Noor Mosque with widespread condemnations that generally labeled the demolition as an act of terrorism.
The local authority in Al-Hudaydah Governorate, in a statement published by the state-run Saba news agency, condemned this heinous crime of destructing the archaeological Al-Noor Mosque which reveals "the extent of the [Saudi] aggression against the Yemeni civilization, and their systematic endeavor to destroy all archaeological, historical, and Islamic sites and monuments".
The statement stressed that "the destruction of mosques, shrines, and archaeological and historical monuments by the aggression and its mercenaries is an implementation of their systematic agenda to destroy Yemeni civilization."
The statement called on UNESCO and all relevant international organizations to "prevent the targeting of archaeological sites, as they are an irreplaceable global human heritage, and targeting them is a global humanitarian crime."
Meanwhile, the Yemeni Writers Union in Al-Hudaydah Governorate condemned this crime in a statement and considered it "one of a series of crimes that reveal the blind hatred of the aggression and its mercenaries against the archeology, culture, and history of Yemen in general and in the southern regions of Al-Hudaydah in particular, most notably the districts of Al-Khokha, At-Tuhayta, Bait Al-Faqih, and Al-Durayhimi."
The Union, in the statement, reviewed the crimes of demolition of historical mosques by the Saudi aggression, including the demolition of the historical Al-Faza Mosque in At-Tuhayta District with bulldozers in October 2018 which was built in the Prophet’s era.
Tihama Organization for Rights, Development and Human Heritage condemned what it called "the coalition of aggression and its Takfiri mercenaries who demolished the historic Al-Noor Mosque," according to Saba.
The organization considered the targeting of historical monuments and archaeological sites as "part of an effort to eliminate the Islamic cultural heritage."
The latest demolition of Al-Noor Mosque has raised several question marks about how these militias can be stopped and whether each demolition is the last one.
"The series of terrorist demolition for the history and authentic heritage of Yemen will not be stopped with statements, appeals, vigils, and denunciations", Maodha said, calling for global action to stop these Saudi-backed militias.
He accused the United Nations bodies and organizations concerned with preserving the human heritage of "aligning with Saudi Arabia and the UAE for considerations of funding."
"The tampering of the occupation with our history and heritage will not stop until the liberation of the entire Yemeni land and the expulsion of the invaders and occupiers," Maodhah told Al Mayadeen English.