Dubai: Iran-backed Al Houthi rebels in Yemen have banned Taraweeh prayers in the Yemeni capital in a move aimed at preventing any incitement against their grip on power, the Yemen 24 newssite reported.
Since Al Houthis invaded Sana’a on September 21, 2014, a number of imams fled to other Yemeni provinces or other Arab countries for fear that they might be tortured by Al Houthis.
Hundreds of families and relatives of preachers have been arrested and tortured.
The rebel group also told imams to cancel any religious lectures, seminars or lessons inside the mosques.
The imams were forced to sign pledges to ensure that they will not organise any religious lectures or lessons.
Al Houthis also told mosques that if Taraweeh prayers are performed then they must include a invocation for the group and its fighters.
The rebels and their allies — renegade troops loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh — have controlled all government institutions in Sana’a since they overran the capital in September 2014.
The internationally-recognised president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi currently runs the government in the southern port city of Aden where he travels back and forth from Riyadh.
Hadi came to power in early 2012 following massive Arab Spring protests that forced Saleh to give up power.
However, Hadi was forced to decamp to the city of Aden, escaping Al Houthi-imposed house arrest after the rebels took over the government in a coup in 2014.
Since then, Hadi has shifted his government headquarters to Aden from where he has led an offensive to liberate Al Houthi-occupied territories.
With help from the Saudi-led Arab coalition, Yemeni government forces has achieved widespread gains in many provinces, but Al Houthis still control the capital Sana’a and most northern provinces including Hodeida, Ibb, Mahweet, Yareem, Amran, Baydha and Hajja.