Saudi steps up war on sorcery
Saudi Arabia has decided to bolster its religious police unit specialized in arresting magicians within an ongoing war on sorcery which is punishable by execution in the Gulf Kingdom.
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the influential law enforcement authority in the world’s oil powerhouse, reported that it had created a “field unit” charged with fighting sorcerers, who it described as “key causers of religious and social instability in the country.”
The new unit is headed by sheikh Adel Al Muqbil, a prominent scholar in the Kingdom, and it includes several other well known scholars.
The Commission’s president, Sheikh Abdul Latif Al Shaikh, ordered the creation of that unit which the statement said is designed to “activate field action to fight sorcerers and charlatans in all parts of the Kingdom.”
“The unit has been given orders to immediately arrest sorcerers and charlatans and refer them to the specialized authorities to apply God’s punishment on them and end their harmful deeds against Muslims,” it said.
The new unit is the latest in a series of measures taken by Saudi Arabia to eliminate sorcery as part of a campaign spearheaded by the Commission, an autonomous state fundamentalist group backed by King Abdullah.
Newspapers said last year that King Abdullah has ordered the Commission to devise new ways to combat black magic after endorsing a SR 2 million plan.
The newspapers in the Kingdom, which enforces one of the toughest Islamic sharia laws in the world, said the Commission decided to start a nation-wide campaign against witchcraft following a surge in reported black magic cases, which have reached around 586 over the past few years.
The campaign, which will continue indefinitely, involve lectures, training courses, stronger coordination among all relevant authorities, exchange of information within the Kingdom’s regions and storming of suspected places. Several persons accused of witchcraft have been executed in Saudi Arabia in the past few years.
The Commission said the drive would cover all areas of the Kingdom and would target all forms of black magic, which is viewed by Islam and other religions as evil and satanic driven. While some people defend what they describe as white magic, Islam and many other religions consider all types of magic as evil.
The Commission has not specified witchcraft offences in the Kingdom but there have been reports of cases involving all forms of black magic, including dowsing, exorcism, money cloning, fortune tellers, healers, bone-setters, makers of potions, herbalists, palmists, animal callers, alchemists, psychics, and empathy.
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