A leading member of Yemen’s dwindling Jewish community was attacked with a knife in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday by a Muslim who accused him of witchcraft, the wounded man’s son told AFP.
Rabbi Harun Yusuf Zindani, 50, “was stabbed at Saawan market near the US embassy in northeast Sanaa,” his son Yehya said. “He received stab wounds to his neck and stomach.”
Yehya, who said his father was now in hospital undergoing surgery, said the attacker was a “well-known person who says my father has ruined and bewitched him.”
In 1948, Yemen’s Jewish community numbered some 60,000. But in the three years following the creation of the Jewish state that year, more than 48,000 were taken to Israel in a secret operation known as Magic Carpet.
The community continued to dwindle in subsequent decades and by the early 1990s it numbered only around 1,000 people. The lifting of a longstanding travel ban in 1993 sparked a fresh exodus.
Barely 300 people remain from the Jewish community in Yemen.
Rabbi Zindani is originally from the northern province of Saada where Zaidi Shiite rebels fought a bloody war against the regime of former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Since 2007, authorities have moved members of the minority community from Saada to a safe neighbourhood in Sanaa near the US embassy.Over the weekend, the ccountry’s hief rabbi called on the country’s president to allow the Jewish community and other minority groups to have seats in the country’s parliament.
“I demand the government’s new attention to this, to work to allocate seats for members of the community in the Consultative Council and Parliament, in order to feel real citizenship, non-discrimination, a right guaranteed by our law and the Constitution,” said Rabbi Yahia Youssef Moussa in an interview with CNN Arabic.
Rabbi Moussa said he emphasized to the president the importance of the Jewish community to Yemen and that the Jewish community would like to serve in the government in order to help its own community and all the people of Yemen.