When you think of witch hunts, you probably think of the Salem witch trials, or the Spainish Inquisition. It happened hundreds of years ago, and we all agree it was stupid. Actually, these countries wouldn't agree with that.

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February 05, 2012

7. Saudi Arabia

7. Saudi Arabia

"Looks like we got a hot tip on the sorcery hotline," the tough-as-nails Captain said over his coffee.
"What do we got, Captain?" the hot new leader of the Anti-Witchcraft Unit asked.
"The severed head of a wolf wrapped in women's lingerie turned up near the city. Someone trying to cast a spell?"
"Another witch in town." The detective slipped on his sunglasses. "Time for a hunt."

This is not the pilot of Joss Whedon's new show. This is reality in Saudi Arabia. In 2009, Saudi Arabia set up the 'Anti-Witchcraft Unit' of their religious police, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPV). Charging them with apprehending sorcerers, and reversing the detrimental effects of their spells. They even have a sorcery hotline.



Also in 2009, the Witch Squad were on the Case of the Indonesian Housemaids.

It began with the hospitalization of a boy for two months with a strange illness. When the housemaid, Suma Rini, visited the boy she told his mother that he was not in need of doctors or a hospital because he had a Satan in him, and that the boy’s eyes were a clear indication of this. This caused the mother to become suspicious, and she continued to press the housemaid for more. The housemaid said that when she was in Indonesia, she used to read a book on sorcery, magic and conjuring the djinn. Then one of the family’s relatives visited the boy and recited verses of the Holy Qur’an, which caused the housemaid to run away, saying that everything had become dark. It was clear they were dealing with pure evil.

The housemaid was tempted with a fake check, air tickets out of the country, and reassured that no harm would come to her. She admitted that she had cast spells on the whole family, each member with a special charm according to what she wanted from him or her, but did not know how to undo them. The family agreed to give her even larger amounts of money if she showed them where she had placed the magic charms.

At this point they called the authorities. Two members of the Witch Squad were dispatched. The housemaid showed them 15 places in the house where she had put charms, which the Commission carefully removed and undid. Once again, the world was safe.



6. Cameroon

After the death of her older sister, Mariana Alemji Forzi was offered a gift of plantains and pork by her co-wife, Mary Amin Ngu. What she didn't suspect was that the food was made by Christina Awung Fombe, head of a witch-cult. After succumbing to the enchanted food, she found herself manipulating magic in the middle of mystical meetings... of MURDER!

Mariana confessed to her nephew, Maurice Amin Mbetenhduoh, that their spells were responsible for a car crash involving his daughter and another woman, Susie Nkeng, which resulted in Susie's death. His daughter had taken ill, and according to Mariana, was next to die.

After Mariana's children heard of this, they made the reasonable decision to poison her, but their pastor dissuaded them. After Maurice's daughter died, no doubt from magic, he took his aunt to court. Section 251 of the Cameroon Penal Code states that witchcraft can be punished with 2 to 10 years imprisonment and a hefty fine. All 6 women of the witch-cult were convicted.



But, remember, not all witchcraft is bad witchcraft. During the 2010 World Cup, Cameroon had a team of government funded witch-doctors in their delegation. After the Lions failed to make it to the second round, many Cameroonians began to wonder if the witch-doctors were worth it. This debate even reached the Cameroon National Assembly.

Answering the parliamentarians, the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Michel Zoah, declared that, "witchcraft, besides mysticism, internal wrangling, jealousy and disorder was the cause of the Lions debacle".

Others disagreed with Zoah. Adamou, the witchdoctor, was confident that black magic works for football. He said how such practices worked: "All I need to do is have a name of one player from the opposite side and I either make them fall, unable to run, tie their legs, or have the opponents miss their balls". He further boosted, "I made Kameni, the Lions' goalkeeper, move to France. I equally work for the presidency".


5. Gambia

After his aunt was killed through sorcery, His Excellency President Professor Dr. Al-Haji Yahya Jammeh, 6 time winner of "The Most Awesome Title Award", decided he had had it with these Monkey-Fightin' witches in his Monday-to-Friday country.

To the accompaniment of drums, and directed by witch-hunters in red tunics, up to a thousand people have been taken from their villages and driven by bus to secret locations, where they were forced to drink foul-smelling concoctions that made them hallucinate, gave them severe stomach pains, and caused a few deaths.

Army spokesmen have denied involvement in these kidnappings, however hundreds of eyewitnesses have reported the presence of police, soldiers, and the President's own guards called "green boys".



For anyone who doubts President Jammeh, you should know that the man has cured AIDS. "I can treat asthma and HIV/Aids... Within three days the person should be tested again and I can tell you that he/she will be negative," he said in a statement.

He has never used witchcraft in his cures, for he is a man of science. "I am not a witch doctor and in fact you cannot have a witch doctor," he said. "You are either a witch or a doctor."


4. Congo

Weiners are funny. You're probably giggling from that sentence alone. Seriously, grow up. You know what's not funny; having your penis shrunk or stolen by a witch-doctor. That shit happens all the time in West Africa.

In 2008, police arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises in the capital city of Kinshasa. Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings.  You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko said.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade before, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs.

"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke," Oleko said. "But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'."

An eyewitness, Alain Kalala, who sold phone credits near a Kinshasa police station, said: "It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny."

Also, weiners.



3. Papua New Guinea

In 1977, the former Minister for Justice, Mr. Ebia Olwale asked the Law Reform Commission to look into the types of sorcery practised in Papua New Guinea to determine how widespread the practice of sorcery was, suggest to him if the present law against sorcery was effective, and also suggest to what extent the law should further deal with sorcery, if at all. What they came up with was called the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission of Papua New Guinea - Occasional Paper 04, and it has to be read to be believed.

First, there's the traditional legal system, the People's Law, which stated: "The main remedy for injury or death caused by sorcery is compensation which is agreed between the clans concerned. However, occasionally more drastic measures may be taken against an alleged sorcerer. A sorcerer may be killed either with sorcery or with a spear, knife or an axe."

Then there are the Village Courts. Sorcery is made an offence under the Village Courts Act 1973: "If a person commits these offences, he can be fined up to K50.00 or ordered to do community work for up to 4 weeks. If the person does not pay the fine or do the community work, he can be sent to prison for up to 5 weeks."

Finally, there's the National Judicial System, which stated: "The present law against sorcery as applied by the Local, District and National Courts is found mainly in the Sorcery Act 1971. This law recognizes that sorcery such as witchcraft, magic, enchantment, ‘puri puri’, ‘mura mura’, ‘dikana’, ‘vada’, ‘mea mea’, ‘sanguma’ or ‘malira’ exist, and concern the supernatural or natural things of human behaviour."

At the end of the paper is a series of questions, such as:

"How can you tell that a person is an evil sorcerer?"

"Does the evil sorcerer in your village take the form of changing into birds, or animals? If so please describe the process through which this takes place."

"How can it be shown, by way of example or demonstration that evil sorcery does in fact work? For example, can an animal be killed and brought back to life by evil sorcery to prove the reality of evil sorcery?"

"Would good sorcery also be abolished if evil sorcery is abolished? Can we keep good sorcery and abandon evil sorcery? How can this be done?"

"Do you think if people learn to do other things like play sports, learn to read and write, build roads, see films read books and do other useful things that they might eventually forget about sorcery?"

"What sort of punishment should be imposed on persons practicing evil sorcery?
- go to jail for life.
- go to jail between one to five years.
- pay compensation to the victims.
- pay fine to the government.
- order to stay out of his village.
- work on community projects
- corporal punishment.
- burn their houses and destroy their gardens?
- destroy implements of sorcery."

Remember, this is an official document.



2. Iran

Iran's powerful clerics accused associates of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of witchcraft, including summoning djinns (genies), amid a rift between Ahmadinejad and the country's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, had been arrested and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns. Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds". Ghaffari had reportedly been accused of summoning a genie, who caused his interrogator to have a heart attack.

The feud had taken a metaphysical turn after the release of an Iranian documentary that alleged the imminent return of the Hidden Imam Mahdi – the revered saviour of Shia Islam, whose reappearance is anticipated by believers in a manner comparable to that with which Christian fundamentalists anticipate the second coming of Jesus. Conservative clerics, who've said that the Mahdi's return cannot be predicted, had accused a "deviant current" within the president's inner circle, including Mashaei, of being responsible for the film. Ahmadinejad's obsession with the hidden imam was well known. He'd often refered to him in his speeches and in 2009 said that he had documentary evidence that the US was trying to prevent Mahdi's return.

Some 25 confidants of Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff were arrested and charged with being "magicians." A special clerical court charged Hojjatoleslam Abbas Amirifar with sorcery. Amirifar heads a cultural council for Ahmadinejad and is considered a close aide to the president's chief of staff.



"So, these are all backward countries, and this could never happen in the west." You're probably thinking because you're a racist. Well, dig on this...


1. Canada

In 2010, Yogendra Pathak, 44, was charged with fraud under $5,000 and pretending to practise witchcraft.

And in 2009, the charge of practicing witchcraft was filed against 36-year-old Vishwantee Persaud. She also faced two fraud charges, but the witchcraft charge stemmed from an incident in which she allegedly read Tarot cards for Noel Daley, and told him she was the embodiment of his dead sister.




You may think these people are only being arrested for fraud, but you'll notice that they're also being charged with witchcraft, which is illegal in Canada.

Section 365 of the Canadian Criminal Code, R.S. 1985,c.C-46 is one of a group of five offenses which deal with false pretenses. It states:
"Every one who fraudulently
      (a) pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration,
      (b) undertakes, for a consideration, to tell fortunes, or
      (c) pretends from his skill in or knowledge of an occult or crafty science to discover where or in what manner anything that is supposed to have been stolen or lost may be found, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction."