An African woman has been sentenced to 500 lashings and deportation from Saudi Arabia after she was found to be practicing witchcraft.
A Saudi court found her guilty of practicing witchcraft on female victims, and claiming that she could end marital rifts and make husbands fall back in love with their wives.
She has now been sentenced to one year in jail.
The Gulf Kingdom’s religious police, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice caught the woman in action at her own home, where she was casting a spell on one of her victims – a woman who happened to be an undercover police officer.
As the Arabic language daily Al Madina reported, “The court sentenced the woman to one year in prison and ordered her lashed 50 times for 10 separate sessions...it also ordered her deportation from the Kingdom.”
As the Daily Beast reported in March, witchcraft charges are not uncommon in Saudi Arabia.
Female foreign household workers are often the subjects of these charges, and can find themselves in jail through a combination of “bad luck, legal revenge and cultural misunderstanding.”
As Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, explains, Saudi Arabia does not have a written criminal code.
Thus, a guest worker accused of witchcraft is not guaranteed a lawyer or a translator; the fate of the accused will often depend on the inclinations of the judge.