This is why I don't write science fiction or fantasy any more: I can't make this stuff up. Via Arab News, a report from the nation that now ranks #4 in arms purchases: KSA facing increased cases of witchcraft. The entire report and then a comment:
Residents in the Kingdom are reporting a dramatic increase in the incidents of black magic, said to be practiced by mostly expats.
The phenomenon is rampant in the Western Province, which records higher numbers in comparison with the other parts in the Kingdom, according to officials. Makkah and Madinah have recorded the highest number of cases, sources have said.
More than 85 percent of witchcraft-related cases registered in Makkah’s courts involve expats, according to statistics issued by the Ministry of Justice.
The increase in the number of witchcraft-related cases has prompted authorities at the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (known in Arabic as the “Haia“) to use social networking sites to spread awareness and close in on sorcerers. In fact, the Haia has an exclusive section on its web site that addresses cases related to witchcraft.
The commission also recently introduced training programs for field employees in Makkah on how to deal with sorcerers.
“We have implemented certain procedures and systems to deal with cases pertaining to sorcery across the Kingdom,” Ahmed Al-Janard, a spokesman at the commission, told Arab News.
“The Haia recently apprehended a resident in the Eastern Province who was involved in the promotion of witchcraft through his Twitter account,” he said. “He was caught selling a stone that he claimed has the power to eliminate evil, reduce envoy and foster feelings of love.”
A Jeddah court recently sentenced an Asian Qur’an teacher to a four-year prison term and a hundred lashes, in addition to deportation upon completing his sentence, for practicing witchcraft and contacting potential clients on their mobile phones.
Several uninhabited flats and buildings, meanwhile, are said to possessed by jinn, according to residents who claim to have personally witnessed the supernatural creatures.
“I have frequently witnessed jinn attacks,” said Issa, an imam who cures residents affected by the supernatural creatures. “People come to me saying they had seen a ghost or had experienced strange incidents.”
“The Qur’an states that jinn have the ability to scare people,” he said. “They are supernatural beings that reside in parallel to our world.”
“I had rented out a flat in this area even though the structure of the building was outdated because it was affordable,” said Syed Arif, an expat who recently moved onto the Arbaeen district in Jeddah.
“My younger son started to talk to what we thought was an imaginary friend,” he said. “He never wanted to leave the house and stayed in his room for hours. We used to hear him laughing and talking to himself all the time.”
“When the situation got worse, we consulted a sheikh, who told us our son plays with a jinn,” he said. “He had advised us to move houses if the situation continued.”
Amena Ali, a Jeddah resident, told Arab News of her experience with the unseen.
“We use to live in the Bab Makkah area and my daughter once complained that she saw a shadow in the house,” said Amena. “We didn’t pay attention to her, thinking it was her imagination, until my husband encountered the same shadow.”
Ejaz Hamed, a resident in the Rehab district, said that the government has closed off a local building said to be inhabited by jinn, which has not been rented out in years.
Ahlam Hafez from Riyadh said she paid a sheikh more than SR10,000 to get rid of jinn in a neighboring flat.
“There are believers and non-believers among jinn,” said Mohammed Mukhtar, a sheikh. “Preachers who earn their living by exorcizing spirits should charge affordable fees.”
If black magic can now be practiced through Twitter and mobile phones, rest assured the NSA is way ahead of those expat sorcerers in the Kingdom.