Old beliefs die hard in Maldives.
Last night group of masked men broke into Thakandhoo School in Haa Alif atoll after threatening the security guard with a knife in order to cut down what they claimed was a ‘Jinn Tree’ with evil spirits.
Thakandhoo Island Council Vice President Ibrahim Saeed said the incident happened around 3am this morning.
“Three masked men jumped over the school wall last night and one of them threatened the security guard with a knife. And while he held the security guard, the other two went in with a hand saw and cut down the tree,” he said.
The tree was blamed for djinn possession of three students last year. There was a dispute about it in the village. One local man says there is a child who is still possessed and one girl who faints whenever she walks past by this tree. While there is no details about what may be wrong with the kids, there is zero reason to suspect a supernatural entity before investigating a whole slew of other options including trickery, psychological illness or physical illness.
But this story gets more interesting as political divides have an influence on the division of beliefs in Maldives. People claim there is magic occurring in both major political parties. Police were called out to search houses for evidence of black magic. This upheaval at the school was at the time of the second (cancelled) round of presidential election and was shocking to the community. People do believe that magic is influencing the political process. Recall the cursed coconut that disrupted elections here. A white magic practitioner was summoned to help.
Native black magic practices, called fanditha is a “mixture of folk medicine, charms and black magic, based on ancient beliefs and superstitions, with the addition of Arabic Koranic verses.” The belief is declining rapidly but apparently is not gone yet as this scare from 2013 shows as a ‘fanditha’ doll was found around schools and polling places during the vote counting process in September.
This is a Muslim country where the practice of black magic is a criminal offense punishable by death. No wonder people are on edge. It’s a witch hunt and they believe demons are all around. Oddly, white magic is allowed by permit.