Saudi Arabia's new religious police recruits are now being trained in more than enforcing modesty standards. According to various reports across Arab media, cadets are taking a five-day course in combating wizards, witches and as-of-yet unconfirmed plague of leprechauns blighting the Kingdom.
Saudi media reported that 30 members of the religious police, formally named the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPV), completed the course in February. Classes educated the officers in how to identify and safely apprehend the dangerous suspects who may be travailing the Arabian desert, such as Sharia-desecrating elves.
This is by no means the first time Saudi Arabia has attempted to get to grips with the occult, with the “anti-witchcraft unit” formed back in May 2009 for this very purpose.
The Kingdom takes witchcraft so seriously that it has banned the Harry Potter
series by British writer J.K. Rowling, rife with tales of sorcery and magic. In 2011, Abdullah Jaber, a political cartoonist at the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah
, told The Media Line
"In accordance with our Islamic tradition we believe that magic really exists. The fact that an official body, subordinate to the Saudi Ministry of Interior, has a unit to combat sorcery proves that the government recognizes this, like Muslims worldwide."
There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence to say that the Saudis are right in their convictions. In 2011, the anti-witchcraft unit cracked the case of the cursed wolf's head wrapped in lingerie, with officers able to break a spell allegedly keeping a family trapped in the cursed head's power. It was not confirmed whether the officers themselves needed to use magic in breaking the curse, or just regular detective work.
Unfortunately, sorcery is no laughing matter for those accused of the crime, with Saudi Arabia carrying out the death penalty for those convicted. Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was executed in 2011, having been convicted on charges of "sorcery and witchcraft."