Anti-witchcraft training for Saudi’s religious police
British magicians are being warned not to travel to Saudi Arabia if they plan on performing following a number of magic-related arrests.
Religious police in Saudi Arabia are now training in witchcraft combat – an initiative that, thanks to the Harry Potter phenomenon, has been dubbed ‘defence against the dark arts’.
Magic is strictly banned in Saudi Arabia, and in 2012, the country is reported to have charged 215 magicians.
Emirates247 reports that a 30-member team of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has completed a five-day course on combating magic at the Commission’s headquarters in the capital Riyadh.
The “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice”, as the religious police are formally known, is responsible for upholding the country’s stringent laws on sex segregation and other moral issues.
The country does not allow any forms of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ – something that includes fortune-telling.
In 2007, Egyptian pharmacist Mustafa Ibrahim was beheaded in Riyadh after he was charged with ‘practicing magic and sorcery as well as adultery and desecration of the Holy Quran.’
In 2013, two Asian maids were sentenced to 1,000 lashings and 10 years in prison after their bosses claimed that they had been cursed by their magic.
The Commission now has a specialist, 30-strong anti-witchcraft unit.
One report said: “The course covered theoretical and practical lessons on how to deal with magic, destroy black art work and identify magicians and sorcerers.”
It was the subject in which Harry Potter himself excelled in.
In 2011, Abdullah Jaber, a political cartoonist at the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, told The Media Line: “In accordance with our Islamic tradition we believe that magic really exists. The fact that an official body, subordinate to the Saudi Ministry of Interior, has a unit to combat sorcery proves that the government recognizes this, like Muslims worldwide.”