Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Witchcraft" today

"The Telegraph" in the UK has run a series of articles on "witchcraft".

Pardon" for Britain's last "witch
A petition was due to be submitted to the Scottish Parliament on 29th February 2008, calling for Helen Duncan, the last woman to be convicted under the Witchcraft Act, to be pardoned. Helen was tried in 1944 under the 1735 Witchcraft Act, which was repealed by the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951.

According to part of the petition: "In fact, the 1735 Witchcraft Act was originally formulated to eradicate the belief in witches and its introduction meant that from 1735 onwards an individual could no longer be tried as a witch..."

" ... second petition asks MSPs to urge the Scottish Parliament to grant a posthumous pardon to all people convicted in Scotland under all witchcraft legislation.

The petitioners claim around 4,000 people were convicted, 85 per cent of them women.

The Witchcraft Act was in force between 1563 and 1736, and the top county for witchhunting was the area that is now East Lothian.

Torture was used to extract confessions as late as 1704, said the petition, and those convicted were almost always strangled before their body was burnt."

Nigerian Tribal Queen rule through witchcraft
From an article reported in October 2007:
"Muslim leaders in Nigeria have accused a tribe led by a woman of using black magic to keep men off its throne. Every man who has become king in Kumbwada has died under mysterious circumstances.

The northern tribe has been ruled by queens for the last six generations in stark contrast to the rest of the strongly patriarchal society.

"The fact that any man who assumes the throne dies in a week strongly suggests the use of black magic which Islam absolutely condemns," Aminuddeen Abubakar, a prominent cleric in Kano, the north's main city, said.

But Hadiza Ahmed, said that she would not abdicate and that black magic had nothing to do with her ascent to the throne. She said her father tried to break the spell, which locals say is linked to a mysterious large rock, but within a week he had been struck down by sickness."

Saudi woman face death for witchcraft
From an article dated 26th February 2008:
"A human rights group appealed to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah yesterday to stop the execution of a woman accused of witchcraft.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said that Fawza Falih was never given the chance to prove her innocence in the face of "absurd charges that have no basis in law".

It said that to convict her in April 2006, the judges in the northern town of Quraiyat had relied upon Falih's coerced confession and on statements from witnesses who said she had "bewitched" them.

Falih, who is illiterate, later retracted her confession, claiming it was extracted under duress by the kingdom's religious police, and that she did not understand the document she was forced to fingerprint."

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