on rival site Pickled Politics about why he decided to flee the Islamic republic of Sudan. Equal parts hilarious and tragic…like the man himself:
AbuF — on 25th May, 2011 at 6:05 pm
‘epilepsy, says her aunt, Jo Taleb, is still seen as possession in Algeria.
So are autistic disorders. My son was “diagnosed” as being possessed by an entire family of jinn by a local witchdoctor/shaykh. My little boy is actually quite severely autistic.
Convincing elements of my wife’s family that beating my son to within an inch of his life whilst reciting the entire of the second Surah (which is very long) was not going to help the boy at all was quite difficult. He is only four and a bit.
One sympathises with the wife’s family who were ever-so-proud that their eldest daughter’s first child was a boy and are – as we are – heartbroken about the difficulties he is having. He is a lovely kid, but very challenging.
This does not mean one should in any way give in to the medieval, ignorant bigotries that pass too often for “care” in too much of the world still. I am furious that the “shaykh” blames my wife for my son’s disability: supposedly she injured a jinn child and this is that jinn’s family’s revenge. I kid you not. My son needs and deserves care and proper support, not the fraudulent quackery of snake-oil doctors and the dark Ages superstitions of some of his relatives.
My heart goes out to Rania’s family. Please God she be allowed to stay in the UK. Shame on those who would arrange otherwise’.
AbuF — on 25th May, 2011 at 11:46 pm
The belief that a range of disabilities have their roots in possession by evil spirits/demons, etc, is – of course – commonplace in many traditional societies. In Islamic Africa, pre-Islamic supernatural beings have largely been transformed into jinn – and many things are associated with their supposed activities. In Sudan, for example, looking at another’s child and not audibly exclaiming “Praise be to God” is considered not only rude, but also means that you may be trying to place the Evil Eye on that child. My wife, who is usually very sane, would repeatedly give false information about our children (wrong gender, age, etc) in order to try to avoid such. These things are very much ingrained.
In response an entire industry (so to speak) exists of shaykhs (in this case really meaning magicians) who service the superstitious needs of the community (and, self interestedly, keep these alive). In my son’s case, my father-in-law consulted a magician who “worked with” jinn and was told that my wife had offended jinn, that the jinn inhabited my son, that the jinn were the cause of his often very challenging behavioural difficulties, his speech delay (he does not speak at all) and his apparent fearlessness.
This, at one point, put enormous strain on my marriage. I am, by trade, a teacher with a background in Special Needs and of working, in particular, with children on the autistic spectrum. You don’t want to admit it; but there comes a point when you have run through the symptoms so many times, waited for the child to get older to make a more sensible judgement… well, there comes a time when you can’t kid yourself any more. The last thing I needed was some mad old crank sucking sheep (for sacrifice), money and God only knows what else out of my dear father-in-law because he loves his grandson and does not understand what is the matter with his beloved grandson.
Beating the devil out of the possessed also had its parallels in European pre-modern exorcist practices; and it still forms a central role in the practices of many of these so-called shaykhs (white and black magicians). Aunties suggested such things. I took my wife, my children and myself, leaving a good job behind and fled out of the country (Sudan), before these well-meaning but (finally) deluded in-laws could seize the child and expose him to such demented violence.
I will always be their for my little boy. He is everything I have‘.