Houthi coercion and violence failed to get residents in nine districts to partake in the Iran-backed group’s Ashura commemoration marches and festivals. Traditionally, Houthis use brute force to push citizens into attending their public events.
Local sources, speaking under the conditions of anonymity, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthis failed in establishing their sectarian festivals in more than nine militia-run districts in three Yemeni governorates: Dhamar, Ibb and Al-Mahwit.
Local observers considered that all activities held by Houthis are sectarian, inspired from Iran, and are completely foreign practices to the Yemeni people.
Confirming that the foreign practices are unfamiliar to Yemenis, observers said: “What is happening in areas controlled by the putschists are exotic customs and are derived from old Iranian traditions mixed with Christian traditions then presented as Islamic by Iran’s mullahs.”
“The commemoration of Ashura this year comes in the context militias seeking to transform entire cities under their control into Twelver Shi'ism,” observers added on the underlying sectarian goals behind holding such events.
Twelvers represent the majority of Muslims in Iran.
In turn, a source close to Houthi militias, who refused to be named for security reasons, revealed the group spent over one billion Yemeni riyals to commemorate Ashura in the capital Sanaa and other areas under its control.
The source pointed out that most of the money was spent on printing sectarian brochures and posters, large propaganda paintings, and for covering expenses for organizers and militiamen.
This astronomical spending comes at a time war-ravaged Yemenis face the threat of famine, spread of diseases and the exhaustion of public institutes.
The source added that the militia's absurd squandering of public money was met with widespread resentment as Yemenis continued to refuse integrating foreign culture and ideology exported from Iran.
In a desperate move to try and rally attendees, Houthi gunmen threatened to cut off UN aid and basic commodities.