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SAUDI ARABIA: A lawsuit against a genie

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A family in Saudi Arabia has filed suit in a religious court against an unnamed genie, or jinn, who sounds most unpleasant: It steals cellphones, whispers threats and occasionally flings stones.

“We began to hear strange sounds,” a family member who requested anonymity told the Saudi daily Al Watan. “At first we did not take it seriously, but then stranger things started to happen, and the children got particularly scared when the genie started throwing stones.”

The genie -- or genies -- had demands: “A woman spoke to me first, and then a man. They said we should get out of the house,” said the family member, adding that his clan fled their home near the city of Medina.

Jinns and genies are spirits born out of fire that have supernatural powers. They appear in the Koran and Arab mythology, creatures living between humanity and the elements. One of their most famous incarnations lived in Aladdin’s lamp.

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Sheikh Amr Al Salmi, head of the local Sharia court, said he will investigate the family’s claims that it has been harassed for two years: “We have to look into this case and verify its truthfulness despite the difficulty of its consideration,” he told the Saudi daily. “What is interesting is that the complaint has come from every member of the family, and not just one.”

-- Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo


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