The tiny island nation of Bahrain, a neighbor of Saudi Arabia, is making sorcery a crime. New anti-sorcery and witchcraft additions to the penal code have already been passed by the Parliament, and the country’s consultative (Shura) council (an appointed parliamentary “upper house”) have just approved the new additions according to Arabian Business.
“Shura Council officials approved the addition of a new article to the law outlawing sorcery and witchcraft, the Gulf Daily News reports. This would allow judges to give additional weight to such cases brought to prosecution, councillors have claimed. People found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft would face unspecified jail terms and undetermined fines or both, the paper reports.”
A press release from Bahrain’s Shura Council, says these new laws will allow judges to tackle “paranormal” subject matter in criminal cases.
“…councillors said the new addition would give judges all the tools to decide the necessary punishment. They added acts could be defined as sorcery and witchcraft if they were paranormal to scientific and religious beliefs. Those convicted of such offences would face unspecified jail terms and undetermined fines or both.”
Despite some objections from MPs who thought the existing laws against fraud were sufficient, this now places Bahrain within the legal mainstream of most of the Middle East. The question now is how will these laws be enforced? Will “sorcerers” be treated like con-artists, and dealt with (relatively) lightly as in the United Arab Emirates? Or will these new “paranormal” laws degenerate into the thuggish torture and execution of suspects as in Saudi Arabia? Further, are these new laws the beginning of a larger campaign to put the squeeze on adherents to other (non-Muslim) faiths in the country? After all, one person’s religion can very well be another’s “sorcery”.