The Muslim-majority Macedonian village of Labunista, long known for its small but prominent Wahhabi fundamentalist community, has become the scene of controversy once again. According to a February 10th investigation from Skopje newspaper Vreme, well-intentioned but apparently unqualified Muslim clerics murdered a local man while trying to wrest him from the demonic grips of his illness.
While all the details of the story are not yet known, it appears that 27-year-old Abedin Alijoski died in his home after three members of the Wahhabi sect were called in to treat him.
According to the newspaper investigation, the young man died at around 11 PM on January 25th after the Wahhabis, brought in specially from Ohrid for the job, treated him “with the help of readings from the Koran and by beating him with sticks.” While the Alijoski family did not allow an autopsy, nor for anyone to see the body, the newspaper learned that there may be an exhumation, as Struga municipal prosecutors are considering this a possible criminal case.
The young Muslim had been sick for some five years with an unspecified neurosis, for which he had been taking an increasing number of medications in recent times, locals told Vreme. He had been living with his mother, cousin and two sisters, one of whom was deaf and mute. His father died a year ago. In the Balkans and elsewhere, the Saudi-backed Wahhabi order has sought to prey upon weak and stigmatized members of local communities, such as the poor, drug addicts and ill. With its specific troubles and general religious orientation, the Labunista family would seem to have been a perfect target for the radical Islamists.
According again to the newspaper account, drawing on local sources, the continuing malaise of the young man led his sister to take drastic action: fearing that Abedin’s body had been infested with evil spirits, she called in three prominent Wahhabis from Ohrid: ”one Bashkim, his brother, and one other member of the community.” While the Wahhabi witch doctors conducted their ritual, Alijoski’s brother-in-law, nephew and cousin were also reportedly present in the room.
Winner of the 2005 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
NAIROBI, Kenya (CISA) – Witchcraft is real, and it is destroying the church in Africa, Catholic experts warned earlier this week.
Scholars from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) expressed concern that the church continued to dismiss the dark arts as mere superstition, thereby unwittingly helping the devil advance his reign.
For that reason, Christians who suffer because of witchcraft are often dismissed by priests as being superstitious, the scholars said. Because they do not get adequate help from pastoral agents, they seek the assistance of witchdoctors or join the mushrooming evangelical denominations that offer healing, exorcism and deliverance, they said.
Many African priests fear witchcraft or are ignorant of their own power to confront the devil, the scholars said, adding that Christians visit diviners and magicians to seek practical solutions which the church and science apparently do not offer.
Africans are not any more superstitious than other peoples, he said. The problem is that the church has not come to terms with the African worldview which accepts the existence of evil powers, he said. "It is important for the church to understand the fears of the people and not to attribute them to superstition."
"Witchcraft is a reality; it is not superstition," Katola said, adding that "many communities in Kenya know those powers exist in their midst."
Dissatisfied Catholics are swelling the ranks of the new evangelical movements, he said.. "Many of our Christians seek deliverance, healing and exorcism from other denominations because priests do not realize they have redemptive powers," Katola said.
He said the responsibility of fighting witchcraft lies with the clergy, who should start by accepting the reality of the phenomenon. "If we don't believe in the existence of witchcraft as Satanism then we can not deal with it."
Sister Bibiana Munini said Christians still consult diviners and magicians for practical solutions because the church has not paid much attention to integral healing.
Moreover, she added, the much-valued ministry of the traditional healer has no equivalent in the church today.
Malawian academic, Father Clement Majawa, said the problem of witchcraft is real and needs a serious effort as it had contributed to "superficiality of faith and morals" in Africa.
Most interesting. Whether you look at evil spirits as a metaphor for certain psychological states or as transcendent personal beings, as superstition combined with the power of suggestion or genuine personal evil---all these attempts are paradigms for trying to explain various mysteries of the human mind, sould and spirit. I personally think all of the above can be involved. For example, what level of personal evil might be behind the power of suggestion and mass psychosis? Perhaps people have found ways to manipulate these forces to curse and even kill people through the power of suggestion. But it is also interesting how Christian belief can protect people from this, or set someone free from this kind of mental bondage.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
From the Washington Post:
BERLIN -- The first person to recognize that Anneliese Michel was possessed
by demons was an older woman accompanying the girl on a pilgrimage. She noticed
that Anneliese would not walk past a certain image of Jesus, refused to drink
water from a holy spring and smelled bad -- hellishly bad. An exorcist in a
nearby town examined Michel and returned a diagnosis of demonic possession. The
bishop issued permission to perform the rite of exorcism according to the Roman
ritual of 1614.
Half a year and 67 rites of exorcism later, Michel was dead at
Friday, February 02, 2007
Peace eluded Bret Payton for so many years. He thought that he was damaged beyond repair -- that is until his life took an unexpected turn.
"I can remember as a kid watching the TV and being so angry at TV families - "The Cosby Show" and all that," Payton said. "I thought, 'That's not how families are. That's a lie.'"
When we first met Payton last year he was, by his own admission, a desperate man.
Reporter Carey Pena (from last year's interview): You literally felt that you had demons inside of you?
Payton: Yeah, but I thought they would just go.
But he never could get rid of those evil feelings.
Pena: Were you ever worried that the rage was going to turn you into a horrible person?
Payton: Of course. I can't be a child molester. I can't abuse children. I can't do that. So what I had to do was find something, some way to get rid of this. I don't want to carry it anymore. It hurts.
3TV cameras were present when Payton experienced what he believes was an exorcism. And we've been following his story ever since.
"I didn't care about my life," he said. "I didn't care how I looked. I have over 50 stupid tattoos on me. (The tattoos) represent the destructive life I used to lead."
But Payton says everything changed after he had an exorcism.
"Come here, stand where everybody can see you," said televangelist Bob Larson during the exorcism. "We love you, Bret."
Our cameras witnessed the exorcism at the Spiritual Freedom Church in Scottsdale in November of last year. Larson called Payton in front of the congregation to do some soul searching.
Payton (at the November exorcism): My stepmother.
Larson: What about your stepmother?
Payton: She tortured me and my brother.
An emotional moment for Payton, and then, "Get up and face me. Get up," Larson demanded.
Payton says he believes the devil was then called out of his body.
Larson: Say we lift the curse of hatred and abuse of torture and torment.
It's a shocking tape to watch. It goes on for 11 minutes until Payton collapses and falls to the floor.
Once the exorcism was over, Payton says he felt a sense of relief.
"You see beauty instead of ugliness," he said.
Read the whole story. One of the dangers of stories like this is that people hope for some magic, instant solution to the problems in their lives, to suddenly and permanently be released from the sin that besets them. Sometimes perhaps it does really happen like that. But most of the time, we grow by cleaving to the Truth, by resisting evil. And we're promised that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us.