Friday, June 1, 2012

Ghost Hunting in Saudi Arabia

In part due to the success of the "Ghost Hunters" television franchise, paranormal investigation of haunted sites has become popular here in the United States and in Europe. These investigations are not just limited to Western nations, either - ghost hunting goes on all around the world, as this story out of Saudi Arabia demonstrates. The Saudis just have a rather different take on how to go about it. Last week a group of Saudi teenagers broke into an abandoned and reputedly haunted former hospital and essentially trashed the place under the guise of hunting ghosts - literally.

"Teenagers sent text messages calling for an operation against some of the jinn who live in the hospital, and they broke into the hospital and smashed its facilities and burned 60 percent of it," Okaz newspaper reported last week. The rampage prompted angry press complaints the authorities were allowing the building to fall into disrepair.

Several films have since been posted on YouTube showing grinning young men exploring the building's deserted rooms in search of evidence of spectral activity. One showed blazing palm trees that had been torched by the ghost hunters. Jinn fever reached the point where the Health Ministry issued a terse statement on Monday disclaiming responsibility for the decaying building, which it said was privately owned and too decrepit to be revived as a working hospital.

A columnist in the English-language Saudi Gazette daily on Tuesday recommended that authorities form "a committee for the jinn" to help the owners of possessed houses.

I suppose that fits right in with the mandate of the Anti-Witchcraft Squad, and it would give the group something else to do besides arranging executions for accused magicians. On the other hand, given the squad's history I can only imagine that they would find a way to twist even ghost hunting into something very very wrong. I would hate to see anyone winding up charged with witchcraft and killed, for example, just because they reported some weird paranormal activity in their home.

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