“The airport staff suspected the passenger, so they inspected his luggage and found books that contained spells, mostly in unknown languages, and some suspicious tools which seem to be used for black magic,” said Colonel Rashid Bursheed, the head of the organized crime section at the Criminal Investigations Department.
It might be nice to live in a country where the chief threat in airports comes from the Wizard of Oz, rather than a fellow named Mohammed with incendiary underwear, but unfortunately that would require the United States to switch to operating under Islamic law. But in the meantime, Colonel Rashid Bursheed has asked all citizens to report anyone casting spells to the authorities.
In Qatar, home of Al-Jazeera, the police are also on the lookout for rogue magicians. The same goes for Oman, where dedicated enforcers keep watch for magic amulets, bones or love potions. While the police forces of the Muslim world are not terribly good at combating terrorism, they spring into action when someone claims that a witch cast a spell on his goats. Most of those arrested are usually foreigners; many of them are Africans, which is not surprising in the racist tribal heartland of Islam.
What happens to Harry Potter when he’s caught depends on how Islamic the country is. The more committed a country is to Sharia law, the more likely it is that poor Harry will spend years in prison or even lose his head. A magic potion that might only be punishable by seven years in a dungeon in a liberal place like Dubai might make a man lose his head in properly Islamic Saudi Arabia.
In Washington D.C., witch hunts end with a banging gavel marking the end of a committee meeting. In Saudi Arabia, they end at the point of a sword. Just ask Ali Hussain Sibat, a Lebanese TV psychic, who predicted the future and offered magic potions on the side, who was charged with witchcraft when he made a pilgrimage to Mecca and is awaiting his own turn for the mercy of the executioner’s sword.
In response to the Sibat case, the Boston Globe called it a “A 21st-century witch trial” and “a reminder of why this nation’s Founders sought to separate religious and secular laws.” And yet despite that, the Globe and other liberal newspapers ridicule any attempt at restricting the spread of Islamic Sharia law and investigating Islam as a “witch hunt.” Yet in a terrible irony, investigating Islam may be the only way to prevent actual witch hunts from one day taking place in this country.
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