Islamic Witch Hunts (Saudi Arabia)
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Illiterate woman arrested in 2005 for practicing witchcraft and convicted in 2008 after being beaten and forced to "sign" a confession, now faces death by beheading. One of her accusers claims she made him impotent
In a letter to King Abdullah, the rights group described the trial and conviction of Fawza Falih as a miscarriage of justice.
The illiterate woman was detained by religious police in 2005 and allegedly beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession that she could not read.
Among her accusers was a man who alleged she made him impotent.
Human Rights Watch said that Ms Falih had exhausted all her chances of appealing against her death sentence and she could only now be saved if King Abdullah intervened.
The US-based group is asking the Saudi ruler to void Ms Falih's conviction and to bring charges against the religious police who detained her and are alleged to have mistreated her.
Its letter to King Abdullah says the woman was tried for the undefined crime of witchcraft and that her conviction was on the basis of the written statements of witnesses who said that she had bewitched them.
Human Rights Watch says the trial failed to meet the safeguards in the Saudi justice system.
The confession which the defendant was forced to fingerprint was not even read out to her, the group says.
Also Ms Falih and her representatives were not allowed to attend most of the hearings.When an appeal court decided she should not be executed, the law courts imposed the death sentence again, arguing that it would be in the public interest.
BBC News, February 14, 2008
"Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police." Lebanese TV presenter sentenced to death on charges of witchcraft. Two other people arrested on similar charges in the last month alone
A court in the city condemned him as a witch on November 9.
The only evidence presented in court was reportedly the claim he appeared regularly on Lebanese satellite issuing general advice on life and making predictions about the future.
The case is causing outrage among human rights campaigners but has made little news elsewhere despite the ludicrous nature of the charges and the extraordinary severity of Sibat's sentence.
"Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
"The crime of witchcraft is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of state sanctioned executions."
Ali Sibat's supporters say he was denied a lawyer at his trial and was tricked into making a confession.
He is not the only victim of Saudi Arabia's literal witch hunt. Human Rights Watch says two other people have been arrested on similar charges in the last month alone.
It claims a lower court in Jeddah started the trial of a Saudi this month who was arrested by the religious police and said to have smuggled a book of witchcraft into the kingdom.
In another case the religious police are said to have arrested for "sorcery" and "charlatanry" an Asian man accusing him of using supernatural powers to solve marital disputes and induce others to fall in love.
In 2006 a Jeddah court convicted an Eritrean national Muhammad Burhan for "charlatanry" because he possessed a phone book that contained writings in the Tigrinya alphabet used in Eritrea.Human rights campaigners claim prosecutors classified the booklet as a "talisman" and the court accepted that as evidence, sentencing him to 20 months in prison and 300 lashes.
Sky News, November 24, 2009
On the advice of a Muslim cleric, a 29-year-old male is chained in a basement apartment in Mecca for more than six years due to his father believing he's possessed by an evil female jinn
'When he has fits he has convulsions and his entire body twists and his eyes become completely white,' said the father of the 29-year-old man who has been identified only as Turki.
'Then the voice of a woman can be heard coming from him.'
When Turki first began behaving bizarrely, his father took him to local Muslim clerics to recite the Koran over him.
'But most of them became scared when they heard the female voice telling them that she was a royal jinn (genie) and that no-one can exorcise her unless Turki dies,' his father said.
One cleric advised him to shackle his son’s arms and legs in chains and read the Koran to him.
'We did this. My son became quiet but is totally unaware of what is happening around him. He does not talk and is now unable to harm anyone,' Turki’s father told Arab News, an English language Saudi daily.
But genies, or jinn, in Islamic theology can be much more sinister. Some are good, others bad.
A Saudi family last year took a 'genie' to court, accusing it of theft and harassment.
The jinn was said to have terrified the children by throwing stones, stealing mobile phones and speaking in male and female voices.
Turki lives in a tiny, two-room basement apartment with his impoverished mother and her three other children in the holy city of Mecca. They survive on £150 a month from social security.
His parents divorced before he was 'possessed'.
Turki’s father claimed he himself was afflicted by a jinn at the age of nine and suffered for more than four decades until it was exorcised by a cleric.
'I used to see a woman who would at times appear very beautiful and at times extremely ugly,' he said.
On some occasions she was 'surrounded by fire' and on others appeared 'with animal limbs'.
A Saudi human rights activist and professor in Sharia (Islamic law) who visited Turki found him to be in a 'semi-coma'.
Muhammad Al-Suhali said Turki 'did not know what was going on around him. He could not eat, drink or use the toilet without the help of others'.
The professor added that when started to read some Koranic verses, Turki became furious and shook until he nearly fell out of his bed.
'When I stopped reciting, he became quiet again but was distant and unaware of what was happening,' Suhali told Arab News.
He praised Turki’s young wife for staying with him despite his frightening condition.Suhali called on Saudi Ministry of Social Affairs to provide the family with better accommodation and to include Turki in its social security programme.
Michael Theodoulou, Daily Mail, July 23, 2010
Man shoots 7 bullets at different parts of a man’s body, killing him, then hands himself over to the police and tells them he did it because the man was a sorcerer who tried to cast a magic spell on him and his wife
The 36-year-old Saudi fired the seven bullets at different parts of the man’s body in the southern town of Abha, killing him instantly.“He then handed himself over to the police and told them he did so because the man was a sorcerer who tried to cast a magic spell on him and his wife,” the paper said.
Emirates 247, January 27, 2011
"Sorceress" who practiced witchcraft on 98 "victims" is arrested. She faces trial for practicing sorcery while experts will be called in to "neutralize the effects and spells of her talismans and other tools"
Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice raided the house of the 50-year-old Saudi woman in a village in the southern province of Asir, Sabq Arabic language daily said.
“They found talismans and other witchcraft tools in her house….the members also found a list containing the names and addresses of 98 families who have been victims to her activities,” the paper said.“The woman will stand trial for practicing sorcery while Commission experts were called in to neutralize the effects and spells of her talismans and other tools.”
Emirates 247, April 5, 2011
Religious police "break" a spell that a housemaid put on 5 daughters of her elderly employer. According to the Head of the Commission, foreigners, particularly women, responsible for these acts of black magic in Saudi Arabia
Muhammad Fari’, head of the Hai’a’s Shihar District branch in Taif, said the maid cast a spell on the women, who live with their husbands and children in other parts of the country, to stop them visiting and increasing her workload.
“They would visit with husbands and children during the holidays and it would appear that their numerous demands during those visits led to her putting the spell on them to stop them visiting their father,” Fari’ said. “The Hai’a in Shihar stepped in to break the spell and return affairs to their normal course.”
Fari’ said that foreigners, and particularly women, were responsible for acts of magic in Saudi Arabia.“These practices are foreign to the Saudi society,” he said.
Saudi Gazette, June 8, 2011
Sudanese man named Abdul Hamid al-Fakki, accussed of witchcraft and sorcery, beheaded by sword. His September execution brings to 42 the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia this year
Abdul Hamid al-Fakki "practiced witchcraft and sorcery," which are illegal under Saudi Arabia's Islamic sharia law, said a ministry statement carried by state news agency SPA.
In October last year, Amnesty International said it had appealed to King Abdullah in a letter to commute Fakki's death sentence.
His execution brings to 42 the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia this year, according to an AFP tally based on official and human rights group reports.
In June, London-based watchdog Amnesty International called on Saudi Arabia to stop applying the death penalty, saying there had been a significant rise in the number of executions in the previous six weeks.
It said 15 people were executed in May alone.Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
AFP/NOW Lebanon, September 19, 2011
African man sentenced to eight months in prison and 300 lashes for practicing black magic near the Jamarat area in Mina on the third day of Hajj
Policemen in the field arrested the 30 year old man after they observed him acting suspiciously.
When they searched him they found many pieces of paper with black magic symbols, in addition to talismans written on his body. The man subsequently confessed to his alleged crimes.The man had previously been deported from Saudi Arabia but he had managed to come back to perform Haj this year. He will be once again deported after serving his sentence.
Arab News, November 13, 201
Saudi woman convicted of "practicing witchcraft and sorcery," is beheaded in a cruel "three steps" gradual beheading, taking the total number of executions in Saudi Arabia for 2011 to 73
Amina bin Abdulhalim Nassar was executed in the northern province of Jawf for "practising witchcraft and sorcery," the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.
It is not clear how many women have been executed in the desert-kingdom, but another woman was beheaded in October for killing her husband by setting his house on fire.
The beheading took to 73 the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year.
In September, Amnesty International called on the Muslim kingdom where 140 people were on death row to establish an "immediate moratorium on executions."
The rights group said Saudi Arabia was one of a minority of states which voted against a UN General Assembly resolution last December calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.Amnesty International says Saudi Arabia executed 27 convicts in 2010, compared to 67 executions announced the year before.
Agence France Presse, December 12, 2011
Pravda.Ru, December 16, 2011
Muslim faith healer beats Egyptian woman to death in an attempt to extract the jinn that "possessed" her
According to a report in 'Al Riyadh' newspaper, the 35-year-old woman's husband and other family members said, when questioned by cops, that the woman was 'possessed'. She allegedly spoke incoherently and was haunted and so they contacted MR who claimed he could treat her. However, he beat her to 'extract' jinn and consequently died.MR has been arrested and legal action initiated.
Emirates 24/7, January 16, 2012
Father blames Asian housemaid for killing his little daughter using black magic and trying to do the same to his entire family. Older daughter "possessed" by jinn, confirming the maids guilt, she is arrested by religious police
The father told police that his eight-year-old daughter died suddenly while her mother and elder sister had been admitted to hospital in serious condition.
The unnamed man said that he had sought the help of a Raqi (Koran reader and healer) to cure his daughter who is still lying at hospital.
“The Raqi interrogated the jinn gripping my daughter and confirmed that the family has been subject to evil magic work,” the father said, quoted by the Saudi Arabic language daily Kabar.
In an earlier report, Okaz daily said Saudi Arabia’s feared religious police arrested the maid after her employer accused her of causing the death of their child and seeking to destroy the family through witchcraft.
The father told the members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice that they found paper and nails in the hair of some family members and were told by mosque preachers they were magic spells."The maid confessed that she was involved in magic work at the family…...she was arrested and taken to prison,” Okaz daily said in a report from the central town of Alartawiyah.
Emirates 24/7, January 16, 2012
Sri Lankan woman facing decapitation by sword on a witchcraft charge, after a Saudi man claims his 13-year-old daughter "suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, which happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan"
A Saudi man complained that in a shopping mall his 13-year-old daughter “suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, which happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman,” reports the daily Okaz.
After the local man denounced the Sri Lankan for casting a spell on his daughter, police in the port city of Jeddah found it sufficient cause to arrest the woman.
Witchcraft and sorcery imply only one measure in Saudi Arabia – beheading. And it works this way in practice: last year in the kingdom at least two people – a woman in her 60s and a Sudanese man – were beheaded on witchcraft charges.In the absolute monarchy that Saudi Arabia is, a criminal code does not exist per se. Court sentences are based on Islamic Sharia law on the interpretation of judges.
RT, April 19, 2012
Police arrest Indonesian maid who allegedly "controlled a Saudi family for nearly 20 years by forcing them to follow her orders through magic" and causing them "health problems"
The father finally decided to resort to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice after his family plunged into more health problems and his children and wife “blindly” listened to the maid.
Commission members asked the father to bring his daughter, who appeared to be the worst affected by the magic spell, Sharq Arabic language newspaper said in a report from the western town of Madina.After a spiritual treatment session, the girl woke up from an apparent trance and told Commission members that she knows about the magic work.
Emirates 24/7, May 15, 2012
Saudi man found in possession of books and talismans, executed by beheading on charges of sorcery and witchcraft
The man, Muree bin Ali bin Issa al-Asiri, was found in possession of books and talismans, SPA said. He had also admitted adultery with two women, it said.
The execution took place in the southern Najran province, SPA reported.
Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned executions for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia.
Last year, there were reports of at least two people being executed for sorcery.
Mr Asiri was beheaded after his sentence was upheld by the country's highest courts, the Saudi news agency website said.No details were given of what he was found guilty of beyond the charges of witchcraft and sorcery.
BBC News, June 19, 2012
"Recently, all family members has started to suffer from fainting and epileptic fits. After the housemaid fled, we found magic items", Indonesian housemaid hunted by Police for being a witch
The Saudi man said the maid joined his family in the capital Riyadh nearly three years ago and that she has been treated nicely by all family members.“Recently, all family members has started to suffer from fainting and epileptic fits. After the housemaid fled, we found magic items planted in various part of our house,” the unnamed man said, quoted by Sabq Arabic language daily...