True, some small measure of sanity may soon prevail in Saudi Arabia, where a Lebanese man convicted of witchcraft seems increasingly likely to escape execution. But the anti-sorcery sentiment remains strong in the Persian Gulf, where Bahrain looks set to join the House of Saud in outlawing the dark arts. Could this be a sign that religious fundamentalism is becoming even more deeply entrenched on the Arabian Peninsula? Perhaps, but the words of one conservative Bahraini lawmaker make us wonder if there is a more Orwellian explanation:
Among those in favour of the move was Al Asala MP Ibrahim Busandal, who said postmen faced difficulty reporting suspicious packages to the police because witchcraft and sorcery were not considered illegal.
“The X-rays show that there are hair, nails and sometimes blood in the package, but they can’t stop it because they have no power to do so,” he said.
“This means there are witches and sorcerers waiting for those packages to do something that could harm those to whom it belongs.
“The Quran says they exist and everyone knows they do, so why are we opposing criminalising them if we know that there are people who would be affected by their witchcraft and sorcery?”
In other words,the law will conveniently empower the government to open the mail of anyone, under the pretense of protecting the people from magical harm. We reckon this is how limp democracies operate; they find ingenious excuses to maintain police powers, while making it seem as if the legislative system is simply working as designed. We’d advise the Bahraini people to toss the sneaky bums out this November, but we suspect that the fix is already in—such is life in an ostensible constitutional monarchy where the upper, appointed house holds all the power.