Witch Hunts and Oil

Maybe I’m just now paying attention or maybe the real witch hunts are getting worse, but I’m seeing more and more stories about them.

Via The Wild Hunt, here’s a story on witch hunting in Nepal. And here’s another one from Nigeria. The circumstances should be familiar to those of us who’ve studied the European witch hunts: difficult times, a search for someone to blame, beating and killing outsiders and the weakest in the community, and zealots looking to make a name for themselves as “witch finders.”

But it’s not just ignorant and malicious individuals who are doing this – governments are involved as well. In Saudi Arabia, the suspicion of witchcraft can bring an official death sentence. Here’s an article from the LA Times, one from Human Rights Watch, and a third from a Saudi news source which explains the official position. It quotes Sheikh Adel Faqih, a director on The Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who said “We are in an Islamic country which is governed by Islamic law which prohibits polytheism. Sorcery and magic are considered polytheism in Islam.”

Two things strike me when reading these articles. The first is that while the United States and its government frustrate me for its refusal to live up to its ideals, this is still a very good, very safe place to live; and the best place for religious non-conformists and the followers of non-traditional religions such as ourselves. Be thankful you live here and not there – it could have been otherwise.

The second is that while we cannot drag Saudi Arabia and its cohorts into the 21st century, we don’t have to support them! They are what they are, but they have influence because they have money, and they have money because we’re addicted to the oil they have. Support conservation and alternative energy, and especially more fuel-efficient vehicles. You’ll save money in the long run and you’ll send less to people who are killing sorcerers, magicians and polytheists – and a lot of other folks as well.

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