WHY NOT SQUARE TREES?
and TREES GROWING CHAIRS?
OK, I admit, the trees and chairs are a put on. Cool, though! And a little scary!
Prison, whipping for 75-year-old widow: her nephew brought her bread
The poor woman is suspected of seducing two young men. She even risks being kicked out of the country. There are criticisms of abuse of power on the part of the religious police, who watch over the morality and behavior of citizens, gravely interfering in individuals' private lives.
Jeddah (AsiaNews/Agencies) - There is great distress in the country over the sentence against a 75-year-old widow who has been condemned to 40 lashes and 4 months in prison for being with two young men, one of whom was her nephew, who were bringing her bread at her request. The religious police (muttawa) who watch over morality and behavior have been criticized for blindly applying sharia, partly for the sake of their own power.
Kamisa Sawadi is a Syrian woman formerly married to a Saudi. Last week, she was found guilty of meeting with two young men who were not her immediate relatives. One of them, Fahd Al-Anzi, is a nephew of her deceased husband; the other is his coworker, Hadiyan bin Zein. The two men, at the old woman's request, had brought her five loaves of bread, but when they left her home they encountered the religious police, who arrested them and sentenced them as well to whipping. According to sharia, the woman is guilty. But her lawyers want to appeal above all by emphasizing that the woman breastfed the nephew when he was a baby, giving her a quasi-maternal relationship with him. In this case, the accusation should be withdrawn.
A few of the newspapers in the Middle East are criticizing the sentence and accusing the muttawa of interfering too much in people's private lives. Some of them suspect that behind the sentence is a vendetta on the part of Fahd Al-Anzi's father, the widow's brother-in-law, who notified the religious police and urged them to intervene against "the scandal," accusing the widow of "corruption."
The poor Kamisa Sawadi has been accused twice before of meeting with men, always in connection with bread deliveries. If the sentence is upheld under appeal, she could even be expelled from Saudi Arabia and be forced to return to Syria, her country of origin.
The lawyer Ibrahim Zamzami notes that a 75-year-old woman cannot be considered a "seductress," but sharia does not distinguish between old and young women.
Laila Ahmed al-Ahdab, who writes for the newspaper Al-Watan, is criticizing the muttawa because it bases all of its accusations on suspicions that are not confirmed by any evidence. She accuses the "Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" of "misusing religion to serve their own interests."
Last month, King Abdallah fired the chief of the religious police and an imam who had called for the killing of owners of television stations that broadcast immoral content. Many saw the action as an attempt by the king to weaken the police and its fundamentalist inspiration from Sunnism.
Nigeria’s Witch Children
Aid workers and experts affirm that the belief in witchcraft is not new in Nigeria, but it’s all new that children now become victims. (Google)
EKET, Nigeria — Jeremiah, 10, can’t stop tears from rolling down his face as he recalls how he was tortured, burned and nearly killed by his own parents for being branded by their local church as a wicked witch.
"We were having a revival at church one night when from nowhere, the pastor's wife stood up to say I was a witch," the Nigerian child told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Sunday, March 1.
It has been more than a year since Jeremiah fled from his home and took refuge at an emergency shelter in the town of Eket in Nigeria’s south-east state of Akwa Ibom.
But his escape came after he suffered months of abuse at the hands of his parents after he was accused of sorcery.
After the church incident, Jeremiah was immediately locked up at the pastor's house, starved and assaulted with clubs as part of the exorcism exercise.
When he moved back home, he suffered another episode of torture by his parents, who over several weeks, locked him up in a room, starved and flogged him and then set him ablaze.
"One day my father came in with a jerrycan and poured petrol on my face and my clothes and lit matches.
“I was burnt and for several days I could not open my eyes and my mouth," he recalled, before slipping into a long silence, and then sudden gush of tears.
Despite the seriousness of the burns which left him permanently scarred, he was not allowed to seek medical care. Days later, he sighted another jerrycan of fuel in the house and knew it was time to flee.
Aid workers affirm that despite all his sufferings, Jeremiah is counted of the lucky children haunted by witchcraft.
At a centre sheltering Jeremiah, there are over 170 other children -- aged between 18 months and 16 years – who have sought or been brought to emergency shelter.
Many bear scars of torture -- machete cuts, burns or a nail drilled into the head.
"Some die, they are thrown into the sea,” Sam Ikpe-Itauma, head of the local charity organization Children's Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), says.
“Many are forced to eat a poisonous wild berry, in the belief that if you eat and don't die, you are not a witch, if you die then you are a witch. But there are hardly any survivors.”
Aid workers and experts affirm that as in many other parts of Africa, the belief in witchcraft is not new in Nigeria, but it’s all new that children now become victims.
Experts blame this trend for the self-proclaimed pastors who make fortune from children exorcising rites.
"There is an explosion of fake evangelists," Herbert Batta, a university lecturer in the state capital Uyo, told AFP.
He added that the self-made pastors know very well there is nothing wrong with the children they brand.
Ikpe-Itauma, of the Eket local charity CRARN, agrees.
"You have to be seen to spiritually powerful to draw the crowds and in the process collect lots of money in offerings."
Around a dozen phony pastors have been arrested recently.
One of them is facing murder charges after he confessed in a documentary film to having killed 110 child witches.
He now says he killed only the witches inside the children, not the children themselves.
The phony pastors also get paid in cash or kind for deliverance and counseling sessions.
Chigbo Ekwealo, a university of Lagos philosopher and witchcraft specialist believe that people ignorance and poverty have made them an easy prey for those phony pastors.
"Some people are making brisk business out of defenseless children," Akwa Ibom State spokesman Aniekan Umanah, concurrs.
"It's greed, targeting gullible and susceptible rural people