Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chechnya Bans Wizards

Three weeks ago Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov called for a ban on "wizards and false healers" on the grounds that such practices are both fraudulent and forbidden by Islam. This would be just another story of a religious state banning magick, which unfortunately is all too common around the world, except that Kadyrov himself is a hard-core magick enthusiast. He may not be a wizard himself, but he is all too eager to sponsor their work - so long as they subscribe to his own religious beliefs.

Though Mr Kadyrov is taking a hard line on "forgers" who "discredit Islam," he has been eager to promote Islamic mysticism since he became president in 2005.

Folk belief is widespread in Chechnya, which many locals believe is a hotbed for Islamic spirits called djinns drawn there by the destruction from the wars, which killed tens of thousands and reduced much of the region to rubble.

Mr Kadyrov was the driving force behind the Center for Islamic Medicine in Grozny, the largest Islamic folk hospital in Europe where healers perform djinn exorcisms by reading Quranic verses aloud.

This would be hilarious if it were not being perpetrated by a state known for human rights abuses. As long as you're the right kind of wizard - that is, a Muslim exorcist - you get government support. If you're the wrong kind, though, like the rest of us, you get a visit from the security forces and may simply disappear in the middle of the night. So the sheer hypocrisy is pretty staggering. The thing is that in reality it's all magick, no matter what religious system you happen to subscribe to. There's something to be said for cracking down on fraud, but I strongly suspect at least some of those "approved" wizards are also not on the up and up.

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