Thursday, October 20, 2011 Holy Divers

Saudi divers find 22 'magic' items under water

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saudi divers involved a government clean-up campaign at the Gulf Kingdom’s beaches tumbled across 22 talismans and other magic items, which were handed to the religious police for destruction.

Nearly 100 divers took part in the campaign, which resulted in the removal of more than four tonnes of waste along the beach and the sea bed in the northwestern town of Tabuk, newspapers said.

The waste included 22 talismans and other items involving magic spells and were handed to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” the Arabic language daily Sabq said.

“The anti-magic committee examined the items and found that some of them are still active and that they have been dumped there for magic work….all those items were neutralized and destroyed by the committee.”

I am sure that some of the "talismans" were simply good luck charms and the equivalent of St. Christopher's medals and devotional scapulars dropped by bathers.  But Tabuk Province is just across the Red Sea from Sudan, where traditional magical practices are still part of daily life.  While some of the talismans may have washed up after being lost or cast into the sea, others may have had a more local origin.  Just last month, a Sudanese resident of Saudi Arabia was executed for practicing sorcery:
Sudanese man beheaded for “witchcraft”

Bikya Masr Staff | 20 September 2011

A Sudanese man has been beheaded in Saudi Arabia after being accused of sorcery and witchcraft, the country’s interior ministry confirmed on Monday.

The man, Abdul Hamid bin Hussein Mostafa al-Fakki, had been arrested in 2005 and charged with “witchcraft” two years later. He was sentenced to death in the western city of Medina after being found guilty of what the court said was “producing a spell designed to lead to the reconciliation of his client’s divorced parents.”

Details of the case have been largely muted, but international organizations had been calling for the man to be set free and not executed. Their efforts failed.

Amnesty International had tried unsuccessfully to prevent the execution of al-Fakki, who lived as a migrant worker in the Gulf Kingdom.

The crime of “sorcery” is not clearly defined in Saudi Arabian law, according to the London-based human rights group.

At least 43 people have already been executed in Saudi Arabia this year, making it one of the leading country’s in the world to use the death penalty.

On one hand, the idea of an anti-supernatural police force is kinda cool. On the other hand, theocracies suck.