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Morocco puts 4 women on trial for witchcraft

Moroccan policemen in Rabat, Morocco on 27 March 2020 [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]
Moroccan policemen in Rabat, Morocco on 27 March 2020 [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

A self-styled fortune teller and three of her clients are on trial after one of them sought out her services in order to prevent her husband from having a second wife, they are also accused of desecrating a grave, reported World Morocco News yesterday.

The four women are standing trial at the Court of First Instance of Sale, next to the Moroccan capital, Rabat, after three of the women travelled from Fez to Sale to seek the consultation from a shawafa or fortune teller in Arabic.

The shawafa, who operated out of a hair salon, is alleged to have led the three women to a cemetery between Rabat and Sale where they intended to bury objects including locks of hair and undergarments. However, their suspicious activity was spotted by a cemetery guard who informed the police leading to their arrest. The clients were taken into police custody while the shawafa was detained at a prison for "recidivism of witchcraft activities and grave desecration".

READ: Morocco patient forced to go to bank by ambulance to pay for surgery

The practise of witchcraft is taken seriously in Morocco where it also deemed anti-Islamic, however despite this, the practise is prevalent in the country and many people resort to it hoping to resolve a variety of issues ranging from love to infertility and other health issues. There are YouTube tutorials on the matter, magic spells and recipes are also widespread on Whatsapp according to Yabiladi.

According to the World Morocco News report, shawafa are known to use talisman, herbs and supernatural practices to ward off djinns (spirits) and claim to predict the future.

Last year US-Moroccan rapper, French Montana said in an interview that he was afflicted by Moroccan witchcraft that led to his hospitalisation. "I think I ate something bad. I think someone was trying to … you know," he trailed off. "They don't got no guns over there, they fight with spirits and s**t like that [sic]."

The popularity of witchcraft has also led other countries in the Arab world stereotyping Moroccan women as engaging in black magic, although its practise is used across the region too. Back in 2010 it was reported that a Kuwaiti TV channel had to apologise to Moroccans after it aired an animated comedy series depicting Moroccan women as witches trying to ensnare rich Kuwaiti husbands by using spells, while Saudi Arabia banned Moroccan women "of a certain age" from performing umrah (the lesser pilgrimage) over fears their visas could be used for other purposes.

A year later, Saudi's quasi-legislative body, the Shura Council granted permission for Moroccan women to work as maids in Saudi households, although this caused a backlash as hundreds of Saudi women complained that the move was tantamount to allowing black magic in their homes with their husbands at risk of being seduced and unable to ward off spells. Witchcraft and sorcery are crimes punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

READ: Morocco pop star jailed for 8 months in blackmail scandal

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