KSA facing increased cases of witchcraft

Updated 14 April 2014
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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“I had rented out a flat in this area even though the structure of the building was outdated because it was affordable,” said Syed Arif, an expat who recently moved onto the Arbaeen district in Jeddah.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.”


Pakistani film director hopes to repeat Saudi premiere success with new movie

Updated 35 sec ago
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Pakistani film director hopes to repeat Saudi premiere success with new movie

  • “Parchi” became the first Pakistani film, to be released in the Kingdom

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani film director is hoping his new rom-com can premiere in Saudi Arabia to the same packed houses as his last movie did a year ago.

Azfar Jafri said he wanted his fourth film “Heer Maan Ja” to open in Riyadh to an even bigger response than its predecessor “Parchi” when it premiered in the capital in January last year.

“Parchi” became the first Pakistani film, and one of only a handful of international movies, to be released in the Kingdom after the lifting of a near 40-year ban on cinemas. Its screening marked another milestone for a raft of modernization and cultural reforms in the Kingdom, spearheaded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“To say it (the ‘Parchi’ premiere) was the best experience is an understatement,” said its producer and CEO of IRK films, Imran Raza Kazmi. “I was completely overwhelmed with the amazing response we received. We weren’t expecting a crowd of that intensity. The number of shows and seats had to be increased.”

He said the release of “Parchi,” which tells the story of a group of friends who hit trouble when one of them owes a gangster money, had paved the way for future Pakistani filmmakers to showcase their work in Saudi Arabia.

Kazmi recently forged an agreement with a Saudi production company to distribute Pakistani movies in the Kingdom.

“We have some interesting projects lined up and we will be recruiting talent from there (Saudi Arabia) as well, so that should be interesting,” Kazmi told Arab News. 

Saudi cinemas were closed in the early 1980s, but in 2017 the government said it would lift the ban and open around 350 movie theaters with more than 2,500 screens by 2030, generating nearly $1 billion in annual box office sales.

“It is a matter of pride to be the torchbearer of sharing entertainment, culture and our unique voice with audiences in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Jafri said. 

Last year’s “Parchi” premiere was held at the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh and was attended by a host of senior officials.

Jafri said: “I believe it’s a good time for the Pakistani film industry.”