When Governments Go After Witches
2013 10 31

By Ryan Jacobs | The Atlantic



Most Western countries stopped executing people for witchcraft by the late 1700s. To this day, however, many governments around the world still pursue people suspected of sorcery. Here are five places where the global hunt for witches continues.

1. Swaziland’s Regulations on Broomstick Flight

After a private detective in Swaziland was arrested on charges of violating airspace rules with a makeshift drone last spring, journalists reached out to Sabelo Dlamini, the country’s Civil Aviation Authority marketing and corporate affairs director, for a more detailed explanation of the aviation laws in question. The statute sets a clear ceiling of 150 meters, just under 500 feet, on light aircraft, which can include wayward kites or remote-controlled toys. According to Dlamini, though, the edict also covers a more imaginative type of aerial vehicle. “A witch on a broomstick should not fly above the [150-meter] limit,” he said. Witches violating the rule would be subject to the same penalty as other violators, an arrest and a fine of more than $50,000, the South African newspaper The Times reported on its website. No penalties cover “witches flying below” that height, yet.

GlobalPost noted that Dlamini may have “used the flying broomstick example only to illustrate his point” because brooms in Swaziland—small bundles of sticks without handles for riding on—are thought to be used by witches, as The Times notes, only “to fling potions about homesteads” and “not for transport.”

Whatever the case, witchcraft “isn’t a joking matter in Swaziland,”where the belief is strong, as the The Times notes. In sub-Saharan Africa, an average of 55 percent of people believe in it, according to Gallup (tiny Swaziland was not included in the survey). In September, in nearby Zimbabwe, two “witches” were arrested after locals said that they had “crash-landed” outside a residence in a suburb of Harare and were “found naked with an assortment of witchcraft-associated paraphernalia, including a live owl, two winnowing baskets which are used for flying in witchcraft mythology, a baboon skeleton and an orange substance in a 550ml Coca-Cola bottle.” Though the pair later told a judge that they were just paid actresses hired by a local “prophet” hoping to gain a larger following, they were still charged “with engaging in practice commonly associated with witchcraft.” After admitting to a less serious charge of public indecency, neither will serve jail time.

2. Romania’s Witch Tax

After the Romanian government expanded its tax code to include the occupations of witch, fortuneteller, and astrologer in 2011 as part of a larger program to increase revenues during a rough financial period, some vowed magical retribution, according to the Associated Press. A coven gathered on the shores of the Danube River and threw toxic mandrake into the water, claiming the spells would work against the government and president, who planned to make them remit 16 percent of their already-scant incomes.

Bratara Buzea told the Associated Press she was going to use a potent mixture of deceased canine and feline fecal matter in a separate spell of her own. “We do harm to those who harm us,” she told the AP.

After the tax bill passed, Romanian legislators also drafted a law that would punish witches for incorrectly predicting the future. Buzea again disagreed with the move. “They can’t condemn witches, they should condemn the cards,” she said.

3. Saudi Arabia’s Magical Police Unit

The harshest place for witches, or rather, female foreign domestic house workers the government thinks are witches, may be Saudi Arabia. An entire police unit is dedicated to fighting witchcraft crime, and religious judges often convict people with laughable evidence. But the consequences are dire: some of these alleged magicians have even been put to death.

[...]

Read the full article at: theatlantic.com



READ: Rare book on fighting witchcraft discovered




Related Articles
Two women beheaded in Papua New Guinea over witchcraft claims
The depiction of witches over the past 500 years
Witchcraft ’thriving in the Welsh countryside’
Real Witches on Halloween and Samhain
Salem Witch Trials
Action Plan to End Banishing of "Witches" in Burkina Faso
Sorcery crackdown: Chechnya leader orders hard line on wizards
The Magic and Sorcery of Iceland
Was Newton a scientist or a sorcerer?


Latest News from our Front Page

Hungary’s Orban Bashes Liberal Immigration Policy
2014 08 29
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday lashed out against immigration, setting one of the main policy objectives of his next term in power after winning parliamentary elections in April. “The goal is to cease immigration whatsoever,” said Hungary’s prime minister. “I think the current liberal immigration policy, which is considered obvious and morally based, is hypocrite,” Mr. Orban said. At a ...
China’s “Duplitecture” Cities Mimic the World’s Greatest Architectural Hits
2014 08 29
The best knockoffs in the world are in China. There are plenty of fake designer handbags and Rolexes, but China’s knockoffs go way beyond fashion. There are knockoff Apple stores that look so much like the real thing that some employees believe they are working in real Apple stores. And then there are entire knockoff cities. There are Venices with ...
Kiev loses control of Novoazovsk, rebel troops advance in southeast Ukraine
2014 08 29
Kiev’s troops had to leave the eastern Ukrainian city of Novoazovsk to save their lives, said the country’s Security and Defense Council. The authorities admitted that self-defense forces are advancing and leading a counteroffensive in the southeast. Along with Novoazovsk, Kiev troops have lost control over the villages of Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo in the Donetsk Region of Eastern Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s ...
Mohammed is most popular name in Oslo
2014 08 29
For the first time in the capital city’s history, Mohammed is the most common name for boys and men, said a study on Thursday. Statistics Norway (Statistisk Sentralbyrĺ - SSB) has counted the population of Oslo and found that Mohammed is the most common male name in Oslo for the first time ever. Jřrgen Ouren of SSB said to NRK: “It is ...
Beaten to Death at McDonald’s
2014 08 29
To the four clean-cut college freshman out on a double date, it had seemed like a typical McDonald’s: spanking clean, well-lighted, and safe. It was in a good neighborhood too, right next to Texas A&M University in College Station -- a campus known for its friendly atmosphere and official down-home greeting: “howdy.” Shortly after 2 A.M. that Sunday, they pulled into ...
More News »