And no, it’s not the cool kind of magic either.
I wrote a while back that witch hunting in the Muslim world isn’t some sort of metaphor. It’s as serious there as the war on drugs here is.
Atlantic has an in depth piece on the latest developments in Saudi Arabia’s witch hunts. And an example of how cries of “She’s a witch” are used by Saudi employers to cheat their foreign maids out of their wages and in some cases their lives.
Belief in magic is so widespread that it is often invoked as a defense in Sharia courts. “If there’s an employer dispute — say the migrant domestic worker claims she wasn’t paid her wages or her conditions are unlivable — a lot of times what happens unfortunately is the defendant makes counterclaims against the domestic worker,” Coogle said. “And a lot of times they’ll make counterclaims of sorcery, witchcraft, and that sort of thing.”
Domestic workers, many of whom who are not fluent in Arabic, face significant challenges in defending themselves against these charges, according to Coogle. Sometimes, he says, “they don’t even know what’s happening.” “I think that there are cases where the authorities will provide translation, but I’m told the translation isn’t always available and isn’t always reliable.” Many don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer, so they are often representing themselves, unless a human rights organization takes on their case.
Even then, they must face a religious cleric who serves simultaneously as a judge and a prosecutor and can often introduce new charges or modify existing ones during the course of the proceedings. “When you have a situation that’s so arbitrary and left to the discretion of a judge, women without the means to defend themselves can sort of be left alone,” he said. Though some of the cases receive international attention, Coogle expects that many don’t make headlines at all. “Given the isolation of these individuals,” he said, “I just expect that a lot happens that we don’t know about.”
Thank goodness that Federal judge struck down that ban on Islamic law. America needs more witch hunts. Apparently.