Scores of young Saudi men responded to online calls and staged the Gulf kingdom’s second ghost-hunting raid on a large deserted building, triggering a police chase that resulted in the arrest of seven raiders.
Police said many young men, some of them were masked and armed with flash lights, headed for the building in the southern town of Abha at night and began swarming into the entrance before they were dispersed and chased.
“Seven of them were arrested and they have been presented to the prosecution to take legal measures against them,” police spokesman Major Abdullah Shaathan told the London-based Saudi daily Alhayat.
He said the raid was in response to text messages on mobile phones and calls published on social networks but he did not identify those behind such calls.
The paper quoted an unidentified Saudi scholar as saying ghost-hunting by local young men is an alien phenomenon in the local society and illustrated what he described as the “gap from which these young men suffer.”
It also quoted a spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s religious police as saying those arrested face severe punishment.
“We have not received their papers yet…we should intensify our efforts to eliminate this negative phenomenon which is against our religion and traditions,” said Awad Al Asmari, spokesman for the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
It was the second reported ghost-hunting raid by Saudi men on a deserted building in the Gulf Kingdom. Hundreds of masked and torch-wielding men stormed a deserted hospital in Riyadh last week in response to mobile phone and online messages which claimed the building was haunted.
“I think that what these young men are doing is that they want to send a message to the society to draw attention to their behavior to say that they have a gap in their life and are ready to do anything,” said Dr Abdul Aziz Al Dakhil, social service professor at the King Saud university in Riyadh.
“I believe the first message is that they are declaring their existence and the second message is that they are ready to do anything unless the gap in their life is utilized by the government…I can assure you that these young men do not believe those buildings are haunted because if they believe this, they will not storm the building,” he told the Saudi Alarabiya news network.
He said Saudi students have nearly 150 days off a year, adding that Saudi Arabia is among the countries which have the lowest rate of exploitation of their young men. “The brave action taken by these youth during the devastating floods in Jeddah showed that we have young men who can serve their country.”