Yahya Yussef Mousa, the rabbi of the tiny Jewish community of Yemen, and his family in Sanaa. Barely 300 Jews remain in the country.
SANAA (AFP)---A leading member of Yemen's dwindling Jewish community, who was stabbed in Sanaa on Tuesday by a Muslim accusing him of witchcraft, has died in hospital, the community's rabbi told AFP.
"Harun Zindani has died from his wounds," said Yahya Yussef Mousa, calling
on the authorities to protect his co-religionists.
The cleric said Zindani was stabbed in the head and back by a vendor of the local narcotic known as qat, who attacked him from behind shouting: "You Jew, you have hurt my business with your sorcery."
The assailant, Abed Ahmed al-Harbi, was restrained after the attack by passers-by and other shopkeepers, who held and eventually handed him over to the police.
The son of the victim, Yahya Zendani, told AFP the attacker was unknown to his father and had no quarrel with him.
Mousa appealed to Yemen's President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and authorities to
protect the country's tiny Jewish community.
"We are a weak people who have nothing against anyone, and I ask the authorities to apply Sharia (Islamic law which imposes the death penalty for murder) against this aggressor without trial," he said.
Two years ago, Yemeni Muslim Abdel Aziz Yahia al-Abdi was sentenced to death for the 2008 murder of Masha Yaish Nahari, a Jewish father of nine.
He said at his trial that he had acted after giving Jews the "choice to convert to Islam, leave Yemen or die."
Abdi escaped from jail in April 2011 along with 20 other inmates and has never been recaptured.
In 1948, Yemen's Jewish community numbered some 60,000. But in the three years following the creation of the Jewish state that year, more than 48,000 were taken to Israel in a secret operation known as Magic Carpet.
The community continued to dwindle in subsequent decades and by the early 1990s it numbered only around 1,000 people. The lifting of a longstanding travel ban in 1993 sparked a fresh exodus.
Barely 300 people remain from the Jewish community in Yemen.
Zindani was originally from the northern province of Saada where Zaidi Shiite rebels fought a bloody war against the regime of former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Since 2007, authorities have moved members of the minority community from Saada to a safe neighbourhood in Sanaa near the US embassy.