August 8, 2019 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1468

Houthi Schools, Summer Camps, And Children's Magazine Instill Hatred Of U.S., Israel, And Jews, Glorify Martyrdom And Jihad

August 8, 2019 | By B. Chernitsky*
Yemen | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1468


Since the Houthi Ansar Allah movement's 2015 takeover of Yemen's capital Sana'a and other parts of the country, the Houthis have adopted extremist curricula glorifying jihad and martyrdom and emphasizing hatred for the U.S., Israel, and the Jews. One method of indoctrination is inculcating the Houthi motto "Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam" in children attending schools and summer camps controlled by the Houthis.[1] This motto is also promoted by the Houthi children's magazine Jihad.

Furthermore, children in these frameworks are exposed to anti-U.S. incitement, including in activities involving stepping on the U.S. flag, memorizing texts calling for jihad against the U.S., and more. They are also exposed to cultural activity promoting martyrdom such as Martyrs Week and visits to graves of Houthis killed in the war. These educational programs are aimed at encouraging them to join the Houthi fighters – and it is reported that since 2014 over 15,000 children have done just that.[2]

This report will review Houthi indoctrination of children in Yemen.

Passage For Reading Aloud In Schoolbook For Houthi Summer Camp: When A Nation Loves Martyrdom, Its Enemies Cannot Frighten It

A schoolbook used at summer camps for 2019 includes a passage to be read aloud which has the children repeat phrases praising martyrdom and jihad:

  • "The martyrs are seekers of justice. They devote themselves to the torments of death for the sake of justice everywhere."

  • "Jihad is one of the gates to Paradise which Allah has opened for his most beloved."

  • "Martyrdom is the immense honor granted by Allah to his beloved believers."

  • "When a nation loves martyrdom, its enemies have nothing which can frighten it."

  • "The martyrs have promoted an exalted Islam which rejects oppression and does not create men who surrender to tyranny or worship falsehood."

  • "The motto [i.e. 'Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam'] is a declaration of a stand against the enemies of Allah that clarifies that we consider them enemies and arouses rage against America and Israel."[3]

Another Passage For Reading Aloud: Jihad Is "Immense Grace" Through Which U.S., Israel, And Their Agents Will Be Vanquished

The same schoolbook features another passage to be read aloud by the children, titled "Jihad for the Sake of Allah," which states: "Jihad for the sake of Allah is one of the gates to Paradise... It is immense grace. Allah has commanded jihad for His sake and promised us assistance and support, as is written in the Quran [22:40]: '...And Allah will surely support those who support Him...' Through jihad for the sake of Allah, the mujaheed believer [Muslim] is granted Allah's satisfaction and achieves greatness, victory, support, or martyrdom for the sake of Allah, to be able to live close to Allah [and enjoy] high status, and to enter Paradise.

"Through jihad, the believers [Muslims] vanquish their enemies – America, Israel, and their agents – and the homelands are freed of the tyrants and criminals. Through [jihad,] the truth will triumph and the lie will lose and be vanquished. Let us embark upon jihad for the sake of Allah so that we will be among His supporters!"

The children are then asked to answer the following questions: "What is the most immense grace? Has Allah commanded us to go out to wage jihad for His sake? What did Allah promise us if we wage jihad for His sake? How do we achieve greatness and victory? What do the martyrs [who die] for Allah receive?"[4]

Passages for reading aloud promoting martyrdom and jihad (Source:, July 6, 2019)

Inculcating The Motto "Death To America, Death To Israel, Cursed Be The Jews" At Houthi Education Ministry Summer Camp

The Houthi motto "Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam" is widely found in Houthi Education Ministry activity for children. For example, photos posted on the Facebook page of the Education Ministry in Dhamar Governorate of activities at one of the summer camps there show a female teacher in a burqa holding up a poster stating "Allah is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam," along with a man armed with a rifle, as the children apparently chant and hold up their books.[5] Other photos show the motto posted on a classroom door[6] and on classroom walls; a group of armed men appears in those photos.[7]

Photos of a closing ceremony for the Houthi summer camps in Sana'a showed senior Houthi officials in attendance. The children, both older teens and younger elementary school children, wear green headbands with the motto.[8]

Houthi Children's Magazine Calls For Jihad Against The Jews, Rebellion Against The U.S.

In September 2016 the Houthis launched a children's magazine named Jihad, which also inculcates the messages propagated in the Houthi schools and summer camps. It features photos and text with anti-U.S., anti-Israel, and anti-Jewish content.[9] The magazine's December 2016 issue included a poem that, inter alia, called for jihad against the Jews and rebellion against the U.S. and Israel:

"The world glowed with the birth of the one [the Prophet Muhammad] who spreads justice among us

"And who grants us the light of the true path [i.e. Islam] in this world and in the religion,

"He saves man from the oppression of the tyrants

"Through jihad that does not take the scheming Jews into account.

"He freed man from the fire of tyranny.

"Oh soldiers of Allah, rebel against the supporters of insubordination

"[And] against America and Israel in all the countries!

"And transform [Muhammad's] birth into the victory of the believers..."

The poem

Anti-U.S. and anti-Israel, and anti-Jewish messages were also expressed on the cover page of the July 2017 issue of Jihad, which showed a boy standing in front of Al-Aksa mosque waving a flag with the motto. The cover also states: "The Generation of the Shout [i.e. shouting the Houthi motto], Generation of the Liberation of Al-Aksa."[10]

Cover of the July 2017 issue of Jihad.

A March 2019 post on the Facebook page of Jihad featured a photo graph (below) of a celebration of the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Yemen, with a poster bearing the Houthi motto.[11]

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Investigation Finds Principals In Houthi-Controlled Schools Are Told To Teach Anti-U.S. And Anti-Jewish Content

On July 12, 2019, the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, in conjunction with the regional nonprofit organization Arij that promotes investigative journalism in Arab newsrooms, published the results of its six-month monitoring of content being taught at 20 schools under Houthi control.[12] The report stated that the Houthi Education Ministry dictates sectarian content to the school principals that is to be taught, and that this content includes the Houthi motto "Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam" for recitation at morning assembly as well as on other occasions.

The report also gave examples of how anti-U.S., anti-Israel, and anti-Jewish messages are inculcated in the children. For example, Mabruk Al-Jamai, a father in the city of Hajjah, expressed surprise upon hearing his six-year-old son Omar reciting the motto at a ceremony honoring outstanding pupils. When asked, Omar told his father that he had learned it at school. Al-Jamai told the newspaper that the Houthis are implanting this motto in the children's souls so as to create a "sectarian [i.e. Shi'ite] generation," which never existed before the Houthis took control of the region where he lives.

The report also said that at a Sana'a private school pupils were instructed to stomp on U.S. and Israeli flags. Following this activity, 16-year-old Mansour Al-Akhali complained that several pupils had hit and cursed him because his shirt had an American flag printed on it.

The report described new school events and ceremonies added to the curricula by the Houthis since 2015, among them "Martyrs Week," "Steadfastness Week," and "The Anniversary Of The Death Of Houthi  Group Founder" Hussein Badr Eddin Al-Houthi[13] who died in September 2004. The schools must hold cultural activity on these topics, and must also conduct field trips to graves of Houthis killed during in war.

Schoolchildren reading Surat Al-Fātiḥah[14] at the grave of a Houthi killed in the war (Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, July 12, 2019)

Children declaim the Houthi motto at a cemetery for Houthis killed in the war (Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, July 12, 2019)

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Report: Houthi Indoctrination Encourages Children To Join The Battlefield

The report also stated that the schoolchildren are encouraged to take up arms and join the war. The vice principal of the "A.K. School," identified as an important government school, stressed that more than 20 pupils from the school had already been killed at the front, and hundreds of alumni enlisted after learning about Houthi ideology at school and at home. Sabaa Al-Kabati, an inspector at a private school in the Bayt Baws region in Sana'a, said that 12 of her pupils had gone to battle as a result of school activity encouraging them to do so.[15]

It should be noted that senior officials in the Yemen government, which is supported by the Arab coalition, have said on several occasions that the Houthis are recruiting children to fight. For example, at the margins of the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Yemeni Human Rights Minister Muhammad 'Askar said that the Houthis had recruited over 15,000 child soldiers since September 2014.[16]

Schoolgirls in a Martyrs Week event in Sana'a (Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, July 12, 2019).

* B. Chernitsky is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7633 Educational Materials Used In Houthi Summer Camps Include Calls Of 'Death To America,' 'Curse The Jews', August 22, 2018. Also, according to the website of the Houthi Al-Thawra daily, approximately a quarter of a million children participated in about 3,762 summer camps this year., July 27, 2019.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 12, 2019.

[3], July 6, 2019; and on Khaled Muzahim's Twitter account,

[4], July 6, 2019.

[5], July 7, 2019.

[6], July 9, 2019.

[7], July 17, 2019.

[8], August 4, 2019.

[9], September 27, 2016.

[10], July 29, 2019.

[11], March 26, 2019.

[13] In its early days the movement was called Al-Shabab Al-Mu'umin – The Believing Youth. Later its name changed to Ansar Allah – Supporters of Allah, based on Quran 61:14: "O you who have believed, be supporters of Allah, as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, 'Who are my supporters for Allah?' The disciples said, 'We are supporters of Allah.' And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So we supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became victors."

[14] Al-Fātiḥah is the opening chapter of the Quran and plays an essential role in Islamic prayer. It is often included in religious ceremonies and recited to honor the dead.

[15] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 12, 2019.

[16] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 12, 2019.

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