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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 January 2007, 15:07 GMT
Yemeni Jews flee Islamist threat
By Ginny Hill
BBC News, Sanaa

Forty-five Jewish people in Yemen have taken refuge in a hotel in northern Yemen after receiving death threats from Muslim extremists.

The group fled their village 10 days ago when they were confronted by masked radical Islamist gunmen.

The minority community has followed a traditional way of life in the village of Salem for centuries.

But, earlier this month, the Salem Jews received a letter accusing them of spreading vice and corruption.

The message was clear - the Jews must leave the country or lose their lives.

Decade-long insurgency

Dawoud Yousef Mousa and his neighbours fled to Saada City, the provincial capital.

Since then, the group has been living in the Paris Tower hotel at the expense of a local tribal sheikh, despite the authorities' promise to guarantee their safe return home.

Saada's governor claimed the threats against the Jews came from Zaydi Shia rebels, who have fought a four-year insurgency in northern Yemen.

The extremists are said to belong to a banned organisation known as the Youthful Believers, who want to replace Yemen's democratic government with an Islamic theocracy.

Most of Yemen's 60,000 Jewish people were evacuated to Israel during Operation Magic Carpet following anti-Jewish riots in 1948.

Now, Yemen's tiny Jewish minority numbers just several hundred people.

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