Saudi Religious Police Trained to Fight Black Magic

To carry out their duties, new members of the religious police in Saudi Arabia are attending training on how to fight black magic and arrest evildoers.  Thirty members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have completed a five-day course being given at the Commission's headquarters in Riyadh.  The course covers theoretical and applied lessons on how to identify magic workers, break their spells, and destroy their magical equipment.   While actual information on the nature of the training is limited, enforcing Saudi Arabia's ban on witchcraft and sorcery is one of the Commission's primary responsibilities along with "preserving Islam, preventing blackmail, fighting human trafficking, and ensuring that no one disobeys the country’s rulers."

The punishment for practicing witchcraft in Saudi Arabia remains severe. Under the draconian Wahhabi doctrine practiced in Saudi Arabia, monotheism is rigidly enforced with any sort of witchcraft, fortune telling, astrology, faith healing, spell-casting, associating with Jinn, spirits, or idols being regarded as blasphemous.  The accused rarely, if ever, get a chance to defend themselves from allegations raised against them and are completely at the mercy of judges who have no hesitation of handing down sentences ranging from whippings to execution. Given that belief in Jinn and magic remains strong in Muslim folklore, paranoia about witchcraft, and the prospect of being accused of sorcery, is rampant. 

In 2007, Egyptian pharmacist Mustafa Ibrahim was beheaded in Riyadh for ""practicing magic and sorcery as well as adultery and desecration of the Holy Quran."   He was charged after another man accused him of casting spells to separate him from his wife.  An investigation of his home found "books on black magic, a candle with an incantation "to summon devils" and "foul-smelling herbs.""  He also confessed to committing adultery and "desecrating the Koran" by placing copies in his restroom.

In May, 2013, two Asian maids were sentenced to 1,000 lashings and ten years in prison after being convicted of practicing magic on their employers.   Accusations of sorcery allegedly practiced by domestic servants against the people hiring them are not uncommon given the more than two million domestics currently working in Saudi Arabia.   Along with complaints about abuse and poor working conditions, stories of magic-using domestics often take on a life of their own.  Much like our own history, virtually any calamity that strikes, from disease to accidents, can be blamed on witchcraft and scapegoats are rarely hard to find.

Though most of the public beheadings carried out in Saudi Arabia are for crimes such as murder, drug offenses, or rape, executions for witchcraft, along with "apostasy" and adultery show no signs of decreasing.    Meanwhile, members of the religious police remain vigilant for any sign of sorcery in their country.  The anti-black magic training they receive will likely come in handy in the years to come.

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