Yemenis reject new fatwa issuing Houthi authority in Sanaa

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A Houthi decision to appoint a mufti to be the leading authority in issuing fatwa’s in Sanaa has been widely rejected in the capital, where many believe that the decision reflects a sectarian ideological orientation of the Houthi group and could create sectarian division in Yemen.

A fatwa is a nonbinding but authoritative legal opinion or learned interpretation that a qualified jurist or mufti, can give on issues pertaining to the Islamic law.

The decision to replace the current religious fatwa authority with a Houthi one was made by a Houthi political council.

Beraas Shams al-Din Muhammad Sharaf al-Din also known as Mufti of Yemen was appointed instead of Judge Mohammed bin Ismail al-Omrani, who was subjected to harassment by the Houthi group who stormed and looted his office.

The newly appointed mufti is believed to be one of the most important links between Iran and the Houthi rebellion movement. He is a political activist with the Houthi movement and was a member of the political delegation of the militias that went to Moscow last year to persuade Russia to recognize the power of the Houthis in Sanaa.

Analysts speculate that the Houthis decision to appoint a Houthi mufti for the capital reflects their aim to tightening their grip on educational and judicial institutions. This could enable to create a sectarian society where they could return north Yemen to a dynastical rule.

Yemeni Minister of Endowments or Awqaf, Ahmed Attiyah said, “This decision confirms that the coup of these obscurantist forces was not limited to political, social or military actions, but the coup has reached the religious and legitimate institutions, which should have been far from conflicts.”

Attiyah stressed, “The formation of a Houthi fatwa panel means that the people of Yemen face new fatwas in the name of religion that will create sectarianism and hateful regionalism.”

He considered these acts as an attempt to derail the course of Islam.