Salem Revisited?

Editorial note: The opinions reflected in the articles and opinion pieces in this e-zine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all FN staff.

An Essay on Current Affairs

by NL Gervasio

Do my eyes really see, in this 21st century, a woman being condemned for witchcraft? Not just condemned, mind you, but executed. That means to the death, killed, murdered, all because a man claims she made him impotent (Saleh, para. 3). Highly unlikely, but hey, he had to blame someone, right? Otherwise, he wouldn’t be much of a man, would he? This speaks volumes of the mentality involved. Unfortunately, my eyes do not deceive me as they scan the news article from the BBC. Can you say ‘Salem Witch Trials’? Of course, you can. You remember, right, back in 1692 in the good old U.S. of A. where several young delusional and bored girls successfully accused hundreds of witchcraft, resulting in 19 men and women convicted of witchcraft and hanged, and one 80-year-old man “pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges” (Linder, para. 1). There are several stories about it, high school plays (which I saw a few years ago), and even a movie called “The Crucible,” which has the same name as the play and stars Winona Ryder. We have learned about this in American History classes, and yet, here it is again, in another country half a world away. How is this even possible in these modern times? Other witnesses have given written statements, stating that she bewitched them as well (Saleh, para. 6). Let me guess, either they were all men, or this poor woman wasn’t very well liked for whatever reason. Does the reason even really matter? No, not when it will result in her death over a lesson that should have been learned over 300 years ago. Ah, but history does have a habit of repeating itself, doesn’t it? And this isn’t happening in America or Europe. I just never thought I would be alive to see something as atrocious as the witch trials come back to haunt humanity.

The article states that religious police arrested her three years ago and literally beat a confession out of her, forcing her to fingerprint the confession (she is illiterate) without ever having been read said confession (Saleh, para. 2). This woman, Fawza Falih, didn’t even know what she was signing, or fingerprinting. First, let’s address the idea of ‘religious police.’ Again, has the world not learned a lesson from history? When religion rules a society, death comes fast and hard to those who do not choose to follow the faith. The barbarians, the savages, call them what you will; those names have been used several times over to refer to people of opposing faiths in the far and recent past. The Crusades comes to mind. An interesting thing about that is that Saladin thought the same thing about the English; that they were barbarians. Funny, isn’t it, how the skin tone makes one think you are a barbarian, or that you are an infidel because you follow a different faith. Let me make something very clear between these two op-posing faiths of the Crusades: IT IS THE SAME GOD, whether you call Him God or Allah. Catholicism certainly has shed more blood across the lands of this world than any other religion, and yet it sits as one of the world’s major religions along with Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. The thing I find intriguing about these world religions is their similarities in beliefs.

Essentially, what it all boils down to is freedom of religion. In this country, we have this freedom. It is one of many freedoms we take for granted these days, because there will always be those who try to take that freedom away from you. I went through this recently on the job because I worked for Christians, and I was just not Christian enough for them. However, Ms. Falih lives in a country where this freedom does not exist, which I also find interesting because I have studied Sufism, an Islam-based religion that deals or works with the more ‘spiritual’ side of things. Hmm, sounds rather like Wicca to me. Still, should this woman be put to death because people have accused her of witchcraft? The article does not state what religion Ms. Falih follows, but my bet would be Islam because it is the dominant religion in that region.

Human Rights Watch has written a letter to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, pleading with him to stop the execution (Saleh, para. 1). He is the only person able to put a stop to this atrocity now. Ms. Falih was not allowed to attend a majority of her own hearings, and when the appeal court threw out the death sentence, the law courts decided that in the public’s best interest, she would still be executed (Saleh, para. 9 & 10). Again, I ask how this can happen in today’s world.

It is not often that I come across news articles, as I do not watch television, but this was brought to my attention. The only reason I am ranting about it is because; 1) I feel more people should know about it, and 2) it upsets me to no end that something such as this can happen in the world we live in today.

Do we allow this to happen in the 21st century? Do you think that we should turn a blind eye on the oppression that happens in a place half a world away? Moreover, do you think that Fawza Falih deserves the freedom to practice whatever religion she chooses? As a human being, you bet your ass she does!

I shall leave you with the last paragraph in Linder’s article, which I think sums up just about what I said here: “The witches disappeared, but witchhunting in America did not. Each generation must learn the lessons of history or risk repeating its mistakes. Salem should warn us to think hard about how to best safeguard and improve our system of justice.”

References:

Linder, D. (2007). The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692. An Account of Events in Salem. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/SAL_ACCT.HTM

Saleh, H. (2008). BBC News. Pleas for condemned Saudi ‘witch’. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7244579.stm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: