Yemeni Houthi pilgrims chant for leader in Mecca prompting outrage

Yemeni Houthi pilgrims chant for leader in Mecca prompting outrage
A video showing a large delegation from Yemen’s Houthi rebels pledging their loyalty to their leader in Mecca has caused backlash and threats of retribution.
2 min read
11 June, 2024
Yemeni pilgrims have been allowed to fly directly to Saudi Arabia from Houthi-controlled Sanaa [Anadolu/Getty]

A delegation from Yemen’s Houthi rebels has visited Mecca to perform Hajj and was filmed pledging loyalty to their "master and leader" Abdul Malik Al-Houthi after chanting religious supplications.

The footage, which appeared on Sunday, has caused controversy and outrage in Yemen, with a militia based in the south of the country reportedly threatening the Houthis over their actions.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who largely follow the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam, have been at war with a Saudi-led coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government since 2015. However, a fragile ceasefire has been in effect since 2022.

The Houthis, who are officially known as Ansar Allah, have targeted Mecca with missiles in the past, leading to widespread condemnation in the Arab and Muslim world.

The group has recently made international headlines again over its attacks on ships in the Red Sea which it says are linked to Israel.

In videos shared on X, a large group of Houthi officials on pilgrimage can be seen pledging allegiance to God, the Prophet Muhammad, and the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, before mentioning Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, the group’s current leader.

The delegation was reportedly led by Yahya Al-Razami, the head of the Houthis’ military council.

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There were negative reactions from Yemeni news sites opposed to the group, with Aden al-Ghad accusing the Houthis of chanting “sectarian slogans” amid the sacred atmosphere of the Hajj in Mecca.

The Hajj begins on Friday 14 June but pilgrims from across the world are already gathering in Mecca to perform its rituals.

A spokesman for the Southern Giants Brigade, a pro-government Yemeni militia which has clashed with the Houthis in the past said on Monday that the Iran-backed group “will pay” for its “disrespect” of Mecca and the Hajj, according to Al-Mashhad News.

However, a Saudi military analyst told the Yemeni news site Al-Khabar Al-Yemeni that the kingdom "wouldn’t respond" to the video because it only showed "private supplications".