Houthis, sectarianism, a permanent camp for wars, and the reshaping of the identity of the north

English - Thursday 19 January 2023 الساعة 03:27 pm
Al-Mokha, NewsYemen, exclusive:

 During the past hours, social media witnessed a massive campaign in which hundreds of Yemeni activists participated under the hashtag "Yemeni identity", in response to the Houthi group's latest attempts against women in its areas of control.

 The campaign began with a number of female activists publishing their pictures in traditional Yemeni dress, as a spontaneous response to the Houthi group's recent approach to specifying the form of dress permitted for women in the areas under its control. Young activists soon joined the campaign, publishing their pictures in popular costumes.

The activists participating in the campaign see it as an attempt to stand up to the continuous attempts by the Houthi group to consolidate its grip by imposing its religious and sectarian ideas on society in the areas it controlled in northern Yemen during the past years.

Attempts were not limited to the issue of women's clothing, but rather they are taking place in different contexts, perhaps the most dangerous of them - according to what observers see - what the Houthi group has made and is still doing in the educational curriculum in the areas under its control during the past years, and the continuous warnings of its danger.

The most recent of these warnings, came through a research study recently issued by the Yemeni Center for Studies by researcher Malik Saeed, which highlighted the changes made by the Houthi group to textbooks taught in primary education in the areas under its control.

 The research, which included an analysis of 57 textbooks from the first to the ninth grade, confirmed that the Houthi group made changes in the curricula that "express their ideological, religious and political views," in the direction of "ideological employment of education," as the researcher says.

The research presents models of these changes and an analysis of their goals, which are summarized in two main goals, the first of which is to inculcate religious and sectarian beliefs that express the project of the Houthi group, in addition to "cultivating obedience," according to the research study.

The research refers to this goal through the curriculum's "celebration of the religious and political leaders of the Houthis as the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Bayt); the purpose of this is to build a positive self-image that has legitimacy in ruling the country."

The other goal pursued by the Houthi group through these curricula is to turn the north into an ideal environment for violence and wars, as the research says that these curricula "often present violence positively, either as a natural social and family response to conflicts, or as part of daily practices."

While the research notes a glaring absence of peace-promoting messages "in these curricula, they normalize conflicts, making violence inevitable to achieve a 'sacred goal'." Rather, they portray support for current conflicts, financially and/or physically, as a religious and sacred practice.  

The most dangerous thing is what the Houthis are doing in glorifying child soldiers.

In the context of this goal, the research indicates that the Houthi approaches deliberately portray the Yemenis as victims, while the world outside Yemen is the force that seeks to exploit Yemeni resources and destroy the religious and cultural identity of the Yemenis, "as it tends heavily to demonize the international community, Western countries and the countries of the Arab coalition."  .

This analysis of the texts of the Houthi curriculum reveals how the group seeks to instill its sectarian project in the minds of children in the north, and turn them into fighters for its project in a geographical area that produces violence and wars, whether with those who oppose it inside Yemen or the neighborhood and the world.