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Witch Hunts In The News

Family Banished In Witchcraft Storm

UGANDA – Mr Benon Alyao, 73, sits on a plastic chair at Lira Central Police Station with a plaster on his head. Two other middle-aged men sit next to him. In their company is an elderly woman. The four look pensive and disillusioned. They have been left homeless after being banished from a place they called home since they were born for allegedly practicing witchcraft.

The four, together with others, were arrested as suspects in a murder case. Gunshots were fired at Mr Alyao’s home and a person killed. He, together with his children, Nelson Aporo, 42, Patrick Ocero, 39 and wife Josephine Akello, were then picked by police. Police later learnt that the bullets were allegedly intended to finish the old man but accidentally killed one of the assailants.

Residents of Ewop ‘A’ Village in Abwocolil Parish, Amac Sub-county, Lira District are complaining that Mr Alyao’s family is at the forefront of witchcraft that has claimed a number of souls.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Albino Child ‘Kidnapped By Witch Doctors For Tribal Sacrifice’

An albino boy who went missing on his way home from school may have been snatched for a tribal sacrifice in South Africa, it has been reported today. The disappearance of Sibisuso Nhatave, 14, prompted a police search in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal amid fears that he had been a victim of black magic. Albinism, a hereditary genetic condition, is viewed by many across Africa as magical and hundreds carrying the disorder have been killed for their parts.

Zulmira Nhatave,the teenager’s elder sister, who is also an albino, said: “Time is passing, we are starting to lose hope. But if God is with us, we will find him.”

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Witch Hunts In The News

Ahmadinejad Allies Charged With Witchcraft In Power Spat With Ayatollah

Allies of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been been accused of using ‘black magic’ to keep the leader in power.

Twenty-five people close to the leader, including the chief off staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have reportedly been arrested and charged with being ‘magicians’ and invoking spirits to try and influence his policy.

A growing power struggle between the president and the nation’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is dominating Iranian politics and has led some MPs to call for the president to be impeached.

The supreme leader of Iran, the holy leader, is described as the ‘actual president of Iran.’

One Iranian newspaper said one of the men arrested had ‘special skills in metaphysics and connections with unknown worlds.’

Sorcery appears to have become involved in the battle for power after an Iranian documentary alleged the Hidden Imam Mahdi, revered saviour of Shia Islam would be returning imminently – the equivalent in Christianity to the second coming of Jesus, the Guardian newspaper reports.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Anti-Witchcraft Bill To Be Tabled In Indian Assembly

From the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, India, April 08, 2011.

The bill for eradication of witchcraft and unfair religious practices will be tabled again in the ongoing budget session of the state legislature. The validity of the draft bill that was passed in the assembly in December 2005 but was later withheld by the upper house expired last year. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar informed the assembly on Thursday that the new bill would respect religious sentiments. “We will issue an ordinance if we are unable to pass the bill this time,” he said.

The bill was given three extensions because of stiff opposition from all-party leaders, especially the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party.

Earlier, legislatures had contested certain provisions in the bill. Many argued that palmistry and astrology had a scientific base and hence should be deleted from the bill. They opposed the idea of stalling religious rituals such as animal sacrifice arguing that it would evoke public ire since the practice was socially accepted.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Malawai: Suspected Witches Jailed

Lilongwe, 6 April 2011 (IRIN) – At least 45 people are behind bars in Malawi on charges of witchcraft, although there is nothing in the country’s laws to keep them there.

“The beliefs of the police and courts are becoming the law,” George Thindwa, director of the Association for Secular Humanism (ASH), a local NGO, told IRIN. “The police are keeping people who have been accused of being witches, when it is actually the accusers that need to be taken to task.”

Elderly women are most commonly accused of witchcraft, but people of all ages have been ostracized, jailed, attacked and even killed on suspicion of being witches.

Chigayo Tchale, 75, has served almost two years of a three-year sentence at Maula prison in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital. The community where he lived accused him of practicing witchcraft after the unexplained death of a child.

“Since people are saying I’m a witch and should be in prison, it is up to them,” he said with a shrug. “There’s nothing I can do, I have been forsaken.”

ASH has been campaigning for Tchale’s release for months now, along with dozens of other people across the country wrongfully imprisoned because they were suspected of being witches.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Avowed Witch Hunters To Hold Harvard Conference

From Daily KOS

As reported today on MSNBC, a Wiccan TSA employee accused of witchcraft has been fired. As described below, listed apostles of a global evangelical movement that claims to fight witchcraft will, on April 1-2, be holding a conference at Harvard University.

While Salem has garnered all the attention, the real peak of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s witch craze was in what is now North Andover, where two dogs were tried and executed for witchcraft. It’s been a few years now since witch hunting was in vogue in Massachusetts, but the upcoming Social Transformation Conference to be held at Harvard this April 1-2 could help rekindle the practice. Footage from a November 2009 evangelical conference held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village near Honolulu shows scheduled Social Transformation Conference speaker Dr. Pat Francis up onstage, her voice cracking with intensity, shouting out “In the name of Jesus we break the power, of witchcraft power, every witchcraft power, we drive you out!”

As documented in my new 14 and 1/2 minute video, four of the speakers slated for the “Social Transformation” conference, to be held at the Harvard Northwest Science building, promote the idea that witchcraft is a pressing contemporary societal concern. Three of those also claim that entire family lines can be collectively cursed because of ancestral involvement in idolatry and witchcraft.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Horror of Kenya’s Witch Lynchings

By Odhiambo Joseph
BBC News, Kenya

Villagers, many straight from their farms, and armed with machetes, sticks and axes, are shouting and crowding round in a big group in Kenya’s fertile Kisii district. I can’t see clearly what is going on, but heavy smoke is rising from the ground and a horrible stench fills the air. More people are streaming up the hill, some of them with firewood and maize stalks.

Suddenly an old woman breaks from the crowd, screaming for mercy. Three or four people go after her, beat her and drag her back, pushing her onto – what I can now see – is a raging fire.

Burned alive

I was witnessing a horrific practice which appears to be on the increase in Kenya – the lynching of people accused of being witches. I personally saw the burning alive of five elderly men and women in Itii village.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Witch Hunts And Torture – Opinion

An article by Mary Zeiss Stange in today’s On Religion column in USA Today makes reference to the Malleus Maleficarum in its examination of Bush Administration torture policies. It makes for an interesting read. I’ve included a few paragraphs below, and a link to the article.

“Viewed objectively, the original witch hunts shed significant light on the current debate about the uses of torture. Conducted under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church, the Inquisition, and more particularly that aspect of it known as the Witchcraze, was the most spectacular case of systematic torture in Western religious history. It lasted roughly from the 15th through the 17th centuries in Europe, and it offers definitive proof that if reliable information is what you are after, torture is not a good way to get it.”

“The inquisitors had at their disposal a handbook: the Malleus Maleficarum (‘Hammer against Witches’), which was published in the 1480s by two Dominican priests. The logic employed in this document — covering areas such as the relative merits of red hot irons as opposed to boiling water, and how to strike the right balance of food and/or sleep deprivation — is strikingly similar to that revealed in the Bush administration’s ‘torture memos’ released in April by President Obama’s Justice Department.”

“If invoking religious precedent seems an odd way to resolve the question of whether torture is ever acceptable, it is sobering to note that according to a recently released poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a majority of regularly attending American churchgoers say it is. Questioned by the Associated Press as to whether Jesus would condone torture, conservative commentator Gary Bauer has speculated that Jesus himself, being the Son of God, probably wouldn’t be a torturer, but that he’d regard as ‘morally suspect’ any of his followers who shrank from torturing for the sake of the greater good.”