A Christian cemetery in the port city of Aden, south-east Yemen, was desecrated on the night of 20 November. “This is not the first time such a thing happens,” declared Bishop Paul Hinder, a church leader, who represents congregations in Yemen, Oman and the UAE.
Among the tombs damaged were those of several Christians who were murdered in an attack on a Christian-run home for the elderly in Aden in March 2016. Although the history of Christianity in Yemen dates back to the seventh century less than 0.5 per cent of the population are Christian and many of those are expatriates or Christian refugees from other countries.
Christians have faced years of pressure from authorities in the Muslim-majority country, which since 2015 has been the centre of a regional proxy war between Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels and Sunni states supporting the Yemen government. The conflict has caused thousands of deaths, displaced millions and led to the largest cholera outbreak in modern history.
The targeting of the Christian cemetery in Aden is only a footnote in the litany of ongoing violence in Yemen: “Of course, such episodes of violence do not only affect Christians,” stated Bishop Hinder “but they confirm the ongoing difficult situation.”