Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Magical Terrorism in Nigeria

Back in December I came across a new twist on the Nigerian 419 scam in the form of an e-mail threatening to curse the recipient unless he or she paid off the sender right away. I predicted that it was unlikely to work on Americans, and sure enough I haven't seen any examples in my own inbox since I posted that story despite having a rather public e-mail address. If the curse 419 scam worked, it almost certainly would have become as common as the regular 419, in which the recipient is offered a cut of some enormous amount of money in exchange for helping the sender transfer it out of the country illegally. I get those all the time.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone hit upon the idea of magical terrorism. A group of women in Nigeria are threatening to curse the men of the country if the government refuses to release Ralph Uwazuruike, a separatist leader who has been held on charges of treason for the last two years. Unfortunately for us researchers, the women did not specify what sort of curse they were going to cast, making any scientific analysis of its effectiveness pretty much impossible - though of course this a good public relations tactic because it allows the casters to claim credit for any sort of disaster or misfortune that occurs following their casting.

So will the Nigerian government comply? That remains to be seen - and if leaders refuse we can start watching the Nigerian news to see what sort of magick these folks can conjure up.

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