Saturday, April 24, 2010

Djinn Hysteria Strikes the Gaza Strip

trueslant - Chalk one up for the survival of local folklore in the Gaza Strip: Residents of the town of Deir al-Balah are convinced there are genies on the lose.

Genies – or djinn in Arabic – are being blamed for a series of fires in Deir al-Balah (عربي).

The Hamas-linked Palpress news agency reports that the town’s residents are convinced that two unexplained housefires on March 29th and April 1st were set by malicious djinn.

Apparently, the rumors of paranormal causes for the fire were so widespread that Gaza police were forced to issue a statement criticizing the “abusers” and “rumormongers” who were spreading the word about the djinn, with policemen telling Deir al-Balah’s residents that the threads on local Arabic-language websites (of course) were bunk.

Here’s the obligatory awkward Google English translation:

Palestine Press – denounced the Palestinian police in the government article (Central Province) have been raised about a “jinn” set fire to a house in Deir al-Balah, indicating that promotes such gossip and rumors, “they are weak people, and some sites forums on the Internet” .

Police said the article: “We will not allow anyone to broadcast rumors to cause confusion among the citizens and will take legal action against the abusers and the rumor-mongers

Belief in djinns has a long history in Gaza. A few years ago, ABC Radio Australia ran an amazing documentary on supernatural Gaza and how folk beliefs from the past took on a new life in the Strip:

Venturing deep into the heart of Gaza, Middle East correspondent Jane Hutcheon uncovers a world of fortune tellers and spiritual healers, a world where evil spirits, or Djinns, take possession of the bodies of unsuspecting locals.

Locals like Fadi Hussein, a former Palestinian policeman who lost his job after he was possessed by an evil Christian Djinn from Israel called George.

Or Nazih Salman, whose problems with the dark side are solved with help of a 107 year old fortune teller.

Hutcheon visits the fortune teller for some advice of her own, and then witnesses a dramatic on-camera exorcism that banishes one man’s demons, leaving him ready to face another day on Gaza’s embattled streets.

Islam’s doctrines leave more official room for the paranormal than either Christianity or Judaism. The djinn have a sura dedicated to them in the Qur’an; in Muslim tradition, they are supernatural creatures made out of either smoke or fire whom posess free will and individual motives, whether good or malicious. Satan (Shaytan) is a djinn according to the Qur’an as well. Archaeological research indicates that belief in djinn reaches back to both the Zoroastrian and pre-Islamic Arab traditions.

Djinn Hysteria Strikes the Gaza Strip
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