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New Houthi bylaw sparks controversy over classism, familial 'supremacy' in Yemen

Yemen’s Houthi movement introduced a bylaw stipulating that citizens pay an obligatory tax to the purported descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, raising the ire of opponents who argue that such a move promotes racism and classism in Yemeni society.
Houthi supporters carry weapons during a gathering in Sanaa, Yemen April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi - RC2CWF9474G8

Yemen’s Houthis continue to tighten their grip and propagate their ideologies in territories under their control. The Houthi rise over the last five years would not have happened if they had focused on the military domain alone. Their policies have been comprehensive and they have been active at the social, political and ideological levels. All their activities have one target: to consolidate their rule and eliminate any opposition.

In the areas falling under the Houthis’ control, any decision they make or laws they introduce will be unopposed by the population. The latest bylaw on "zakat," an obligation (tax) that constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam, is a case in point. A long document has been released, stipulating that citizens should pay "khums," a 20% tax on economic activities and natural resources including oil, gas and fishing industry. The document, which was signed by Houthi President Mahdi al-Mashat in late April, states that khums should be distributed in six ways:

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