The Yemeni government has accused Houthi militias of looting and smuggling more than 14,000 ancient manuscripts and artifacts.
During a recent cultural event in Marib, Sanaa Governor Abdul-Ghani Jamil called on Yemenis, including those interested in history and heritage, activists, intellectuals, writers and journalists to act against the group’s systematic targeting of Yemeni identity.
Some attendees spoke of the “dreadful” crimes and violations committed by the militias against Yemeni cultural heritage.
Employees working in antiquities accused Houthi leaders of being behind the looting and smuggling of many valuable manuscripts in the libraries of historical mosques, as well as carrying out systematic acts of destruction of hundreds of old manuscripts that contradict with their sectarian ideology.
They told Asharq Al-Awsat that the militias’ “crimes” included hiding and destroying hundreds of manuscripts under the pretext that they contradict with their ideas, as well as smuggling large numbers of antiquities and manuscripts through mobs they support and supervise.
Informed sources also told Asharq al-Awsat that the stolen antiquities are smuggled through illegal networks to be sold abroad.
According to the sources, the acts of vandalism have affected parts of the old mosques and buildings in Old Sanaa and several other cities and provinces.
They pointed out that Houthis have ordered the demolition of 11 ancient homes that were constructed more than six decades ago, west of the Great Mosque, accusing them of committing a crime against the Old City and the global human heritage.
Activists and people interested in Sanaa’s ancient history urged international organizations, mainly UNESCO, to pressure the group to halt the demolition and address the risks threatening dozens of buildings in the historic city.