MP calls for anti-swindle law as ‘Singermania’ hits Bahrain

Arab News
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2009-04-22 03:00

MANAMA: Umm Ghanim is a 57-year-old grandmother who plans to say goodbye to her old, faithful Singer sewing machine now that “Singermania” has crossed the border from Saudi Arabia into Bahrain.

“This is a good sewing machine, which has been with me for years. It is easy to repair and is strong. I heard the demand for these machines in Saudi Arabia and I am looking for a potential buyer,” she said.

Local tailors have also joined the bandwagon.

“I have read and heard about the craze of Singer machines in Saudi Arabia,” said tailor Sharifudeen Rahman. “If someone offers me a good price, I would sell my 20-year-old sewing machine.”

The Singer machines have been fetching outrageous prices since rumors spread that they contain red mercury, a mythical compound that — depending on whom you ask — can bring luck, combat or control jinni or is a valuable key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

But even as the racket seems to have peaked and is subsiding, there are some still hoping to find a sucker willing to pay a huge sum of money for an old sewing machine.

News of this odd confidence racket has arrived in Bahrain just as lawmakers are calling for stiff punishments against grifting people out of money by exploiting their beliefs in sorcery, black magic or jinni. “I have heard about this craze for Singer machines in Saudi Arabia. The problem is there are hundreds of vulnerable people out there who believe such things or get exploited by quacks,” said MP Abdulhaleem Al-Murad.

“Bahrain should enact a law that imposes stiff penalties against those who spread hoaxes like this,” he said.

The lawmaker said he had come across several complaints from people who were fooled by quacks promising fortunes or solutions to internal family conflicts.

“Saudi Arabia has a strict law in place to deal with these issues, but we in Bahrain have no such provision in the law,” said Al-Murad.

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