KSA facing increased cases of witchcraft

Updated 14 April 2014

KSA facing increased cases of witchcraft

Residents in the Kingdom are reporting a dramatic increase in the incidents of black magic, said to be practiced by mostly expats.
The phenomenon is rampant in the Western Province, which records higher numbers in comparison with the other parts in the Kingdom, according to officials. Makkah and Madinah have recorded the highest number of cases, sources have said.
More than 85 percent of witchcraft-related cases registered in Makkah’s courts involve expats, according to statistics issued by the Ministry of Justice.
The increase in the number of witchcraft-related cases has prompted authorities at the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (known in Arabic as the “Haia“) to use social networking sites to spread awareness and close in on sorcerers. In fact, the Haia has an exclusive section on its web site that addresses cases related to witchcraft.
The commission also recently introduced training programs for field employees in Makkah on how to deal with sorcerers.
“We have implemented certain procedures and systems to deal with cases pertaining to sorcery across the Kingdom,” Ahmed Al-Janard, a spokesman at the commission, told Arab News.
“The Haia recently apprehended a resident in the Eastern Province who was involved in the promotion of witchcraft through his Twitter account,” he said. “He was caught selling a stone that he claimed has the power to eliminate evil, reduce envoy and foster feelings of love.”
A Jeddah court recently sentenced an Asian Qur’an teacher to a four-year prison term and a hundred lashes, in addition to deportation upon completing his sentence, for practicing witchcraft and contacting potential clients on their mobile phones.
Several uninhabited flats and buildings, meanwhile, are said to possessed by jinn, according to residents who claim to have personally witnessed the supernatural creatures.
“I have frequently witnessed jinn attacks,” said Issa, an imam who cures residents affected by the supernatural creatures. “People come to me saying they had seen a ghost or had experienced strange incidents.”
“The Qur’an states that jinn have the ability to scare people,” he said. “They are supernatural beings that reside in parallel to our world.”
“I had rented out a flat in this area even though the structure of the building was outdated because it was affordable,” said Syed Arif, an expat who recently moved onto the Arbaeen district in Jeddah.
“My younger son started to talk to what we thought was an imaginary friend,” he said. “He never wanted to leave the house and stayed in his room for hours. We used to hear him laughing and talking to himself all the time.”
“When the situation got worse, we consulted a sheikh, who told us our son plays with a jinn,” he said. “He had advised us to move houses if the situation continued.” Amena Ali, a Jeddah residents, told Arab News of her experience with the unseen.
“We use to live in the Bab Makkah area and my daughter once complained that she saw a shadow in the house,” said Amena. “We didn’t pay attention to her, thinking it was her imagination, until my husband encountered the same shadow.”
Ejaz Hamed, a resident in the Rehab district, said that the government has closed off a local building said to be inhabited by jinn, which has not been rented out in years.
Ahlam Hafez from Riyadh said she paid a sheikh more than SR10,000 to get rid of jinn in a neighboring flat.
“There are believers and non-believers among jinn,” said Mohammed Mukhtar, a sheikh. “Preachers who earn their living by exorcizing spirits should charge affordable fees.”

We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States help build stronger ties. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2018

We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

  • We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States: US Public Affairs Counselor in KSA

RIYADH: Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States “help build stronger ties between the two countries and bring them closer together,” according to Brian Shott, the new US Public Affairs Counselor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him at the US embassy in Riyadh on September 18, he said: “One of the main things we do is we try to share aspects of the United States and of American culture, but we also learn from Saudis and Saudi culture.” 

In her opening speech, the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong also highlighted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying: “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of a friendship that has extended over many, many decades.”

Shott, who previously served in Morocco, Cairo and Baghdad, will be in Saudi Arabia for the next two years, during which he will promote educational and cultural exchanges.

“There are some real opportunities here and we have been fortunate enough to be able take advantage of partnerships with Saudi organizations and Saudi agencies, whether it is the General Authority for Culture or the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the reception also served as a farewell to Robin Yeager, the cultural attache in Riyadh. She said that it had been a “very dynamic time to be in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be here at a time when I get to know first-hand the future that Saudis are trying to build.”

The night that women were were given the right to drive, she said she went out and saw the “thrill on their faces.” To assist with empowerment and other progressive policies, embassy staff work on social issues and provide leadership training for women’s groups, she said.

“It is beautiful because they take something that an American expert talks to them about and they turn it into the Saudi way to approach it,” she added. “It’s not that we are changing things; it’s that we are giving them tools, so they can build what they want to build.”