The dingy corridors and gloomy wards of a long-abandoned Saudi Arabian hospital have drawn hundreds of amateur ghost hunters who believe it to be haunted by jinn, the malevolent spirits of the Koran and Arabian mythology.
The macabre fascination with Riyadh’s Irqa Hospital, which treated Gulf War combatants in 1991, began with tweeted rumors and escalated to the point where hundreds of youths broke into the grounds, smashing windows and starting fires.
“Teenagers sent text messages calling for an operation against some of the jinn who live in the hospital, and they broke into the hospital and smashed its facilities and burned 60 percent of it,” Okaz newspaper reported last week.
Several films have since been posted on YouTube showing grinning young men exploring the building’s deserted rooms in search of evidence of spectral activity.
Tip: @weirdNews on Twitter
Not unlike the U.S. where thrill seekers disregard private property rights and safety concerns to venture into popular “haunted” sites. This is dangerous and stupid. Guess what kids? You won’t find ghosts. But you mess up someone else’s property, you cause trouble for the locals and law enforcement and you can get seriously injured or die in unsafe buildings. And, when you get older, you wonder how you could have done such dumb things.
Switching gears from that aspect, it is interesting how the Saudi culture assumes jinn haunt the hospital. Ghosts and haunts have a definite cultural aspect to them. Jinn are not like ghosts, but entities that can be evil. Belief in jinn is apparently very strong, enshrined by the Koran.
A columnist in the English-language Saudi Gazette daily on Tuesday recommended that authorities form “a committee for the jinn” to help the owners of possessed houses. “It would be no understatement to say we are sick and tired of evil sorcerers,” said the article.
I’ll say belief is strong. Yikes! A committee!