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Yemen: Houthis force Sanaa merchants to pay zakat to them instead of the poor

A Yemeni vendor waits for costumers in the old city market of the capital Sanaa, Yemen on 18 April 2020 [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images]
A Yemeni vendor waits for costumers in the old city market of the capital Sanaa, Yemen on 18 April 2020 [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images]

The Houthis have forced traders and shop owners in the capital, Sanaa, to pay their zakat, the prescribed Islamic charity, to them instead of distributing it amongst the poor and needy.

Yemen ShababNet news site reported local residents of the capital saying that the Houthis have forced traders and owners of large, small and medium-sized shops to pay zakat to them, instead of the poor and needy despite the severe humanitarian conditions faced by people living in the war-torn city.

The Houthis had previously established a so-called General Authority of Zakat as part of what has been described as “plans to blackmail citizens and shop owners in the capital, Sanaa”.

The Houthis threatened to impose financial penalties on traders who fail to pay their zakat in order of the group’s war efforts.

READ: Despite a declared truce from Saudi Arabia, battles intensify on multiple fronts in Yemen

Sanaa residents denounced the Houthis’ arbitrary steps that deprive the poor and needy, who are used to receiving humanitarian assistance to alleviate their suffering during the Muslims holy month of Ramadan.

According to UN reports, the Houthis’ capture of the capital has negatively affected residents and left more than 80 per cent of the population in need of aid.

Impoverished Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2015, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

The war, in which the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) back the Saudi-led coalition, has killed more than 100,000 people and pushed millions to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations (UN) official data.

READ: WHO prepare 37 hospitals to cope with coronavirus in Yemen 

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Middle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaYemen
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