Horror Show Thursday: Withstanding the Torture

A mentally ill woman, mother of 8, living in Douar Beni Salah in the Tetouan region of Morocco, went to visit a local religious wise man, called a ‘fqih’, but instead of being healed of her problems, now she’s dead.  The ‘fqih’ decided she was possessed by the devil, and while reading passages from the Qur’an, beat the woman with a stick, with the help of four assistants, in an extended abuse session that ended with the woman’s death.

Sadly, the woman was unable to understand what was happening to her, she was just told that she was infested with a djinn and this was the only way to drive the evil demon from her body.  Of course, what she was suffering from wasn’t demon possession, but mental illness.  The fqih and his assistants have been arrested for murder, pending an investigation by the authorities.  I bet none of them has the slightest idea what it is that they did wrong.

Belief in demons, devils and djinn is widespread in the Muslim world, where some believe that having such a possession can cause super strength, immunity to pain and physical damage and violent fits.  While most imams think genuine cases of possession are very rare, some perform these ceremonies regularly.  In fact, in some communities, this is so common that the local authorities issue warnings to the people, telling them to avoid anyone who is too willing to perform exorcisms as a means of achieving quick cash.  Many thousands of such exorcisms happen throughout the Middle East every single year and it’s expanding into the west, particularly in England and throughout much of Europe as Muslim refugees are bringing their primitive beliefs with them from their homelands.

It’s odd how many people will look at this story and consider the barbarism endemic with Islam, yet not say a thing about similar exorcisms performed by Catholic or Protestant Christians.  There are no devils.  There are no demons.  Beating people with sticks, screaming at them and reading out of books of ancient mythology, those things do not help anyone. These people need mental help, not religious superstition.  Here we have yet another woman who needed professional counseling, not a beating by religious zealots.  As this is the last story of the year, let’s pause for a moment and hope that next year, things get better.  Unfortunately, as history is our guide, things won’t be, that’s why we need Horror Show Thursday to show the barbarity of religion.

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