Saudi launches programme to combat witchcraft

Maktoob News, 9 May 2009.

Saudi Arabia’s morality police are launching a programme to combat witchcraft and sorcery, the official SPA news agency reported on Saturday.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, also known as the muttawa, will create teams especially trained to eradicate the practices, deputy commission president Ibrahim al-Hoiml told SPA.

“The plan is aimed at developing people to work in the field on cases of witchcraft and sorcery to protect the society and raise public awareness,” he said.

Saudi clerics are concerned about the operations of self-described fortune-tellers, mystics, magicians and others who operate outside the rules of the country’s conservative Wahhabi Islam.

They often pitch their services to women seeking to put spells on men or to have children, and to people suffering from diseases.

Some are especially popular with the hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers from Africa inside Saudi Arabia.

In March, a sorcerer was arrested in the Hail region who had covered the walls of his home with more than 100,000 magic inscriptions, including some written in blood, according to press reports.

Some officials urged the government to destroy the dwelling rather than paint over the walls, to make sure the inscriptions would not retain any potency.

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