Oh, no. "A Saudi man has been chained in a basement apartment for more than six years because his father believes he is possessed by an evil female genie." Does it get more upsetting? Yes:
Says the father of the 29-year-old, Turki, to the Arab News (as reported by the Daily Mail), "When he has fits he has convulsions and his entire body twists and his eyes become completely white. Then the voice of a woman can be heard coming from him." In other words, the young man probably has some kind of neurological, mental or other medical ailment. Or at any rate, something that would suggest medical care. But there's the rub:
His father instead took the then-23-year-old to the local Immam to have the Koran read over him. "But most of them became scared when they heard the female voice telling them that she was a royal jinn (genie) and that no-one can exorcise her unless Turki dies." They recommended chaining him to the bed, which his father did. The young man, he says, is now "totally unaware of what is happening around him," does not talk and, in the opinion of one Saudi human rights activist who visited the family, is in a "semi-coma." It should be noted that he is also married; his wife is apparently living with the family too. The human rights activist has recommended that the Saudi Ministry of Social Affairs provide the family with better accommodation and increase their social security.
The family is a very poor one, living off of only $275 a month from said social security. But the belief in jinns is not unusual; not only did a Saudi family take a genie to court last year for harassment, but the young man's father says he himself was plagued by a female jinn in his youth - and was only cured after exorcism by a cleric. One hopes that the dissemination of the story will result in the young man receiving medical care if nothing else. And while it's easy to be shocked at the wide belief in superstition, consider this comment on the Daily Mail's story, from a man calling himself Crown Prince, in Ashford, UK:
From experience, I know this is a demonic case. The spirit involved is called a 'familiar spirit' which runs in the family in various forms. It left the father to inhabit the son. Sometimes it takes the death of the host before it is transferred to the next generation but in this case, it left the father to get the son because of the persistent disturbance or appeals on the father's behalf from Moslem Clerics. So sad, trying to cure the exorcise the devil with evil. Medical science will only provide the kind of temporary relief those clerics provide. The solution will require stepping out of the Islamic mold and finding a cure elsewhere. If the spirit leaves the 29 year old, it will jump on another member of the family. If the power of that demon is not destroyed, it will remain in that family for ever.
That last sentence isn't wrong, if instead we're talking "superstition," and "stigma of mental health issues." For Turki's sake, let's hope he gets help - and that this information, too, is widely disseminated.