Yesterday we had another drama here on the West Bank, which brought up interesting issues. Before she went to school a 9 year old girl was kidnapped from outside her home, by person’s unknown. We heard about it at lunchtime when Omar had to go and pick up his brother’s children from Kindergarten. There were lots of stories going around about what had happened. One was that the girl was 6 years old and had been on her way to school when a woman, wearing a Niqab, had taken the child, telling the other girls she was with that she was her aunt. The girls didn’t think to mention it to their teacher, as they were only 6 years old themselves.
This story was interesting as the first thing that people think now when something happens is that the Muslim Brotherhood are at the bottom of it. Especially when school reopened a few weeks ago two schools in our locality went down with food poisoning and many children became ill. The MB were suspected for poisoning the kids so that they could not attend school. So was this kidnapping another MB event?
While we were discussing this, Omar then said that the girl might have been kidnapped by people looking for antiques. I couldn’t quite see the connection! Then he went on to explain that many ‘Sheikhs’ tell home owners who live above ancient tombs, that they will find antiques if they kill a child. The killing of the child will appease the Djinns (demons/evil spirits) within the tomb and then they will be able to find the antiques and be rich! I was dumbfounded! Child sacrifice? I asked him to tell me more. He explained that when people live above ancient tombs they bring in ‘Sheikhs’, (religious leaders) to ‘read’ the energy of the area and tell them if there are any tombs of value beneath them! Now I am familiar with this, living on the West Bank!, as all of our houses are built on ancient tombs and graves and we have had many ‘sheikhs’ come and psychically ‘read’ the property! One of them did say that there was a tomb but that someone would have to communicate with the Djinn who lived there or he would cause many arguments in the house. There is a fear around the old energies which still reside in these ancient places and the Egyptian’s take these fears very seriously by bringing in a Sheikh to burn incense and ‘clear’ the area. But I had never heard of a child sacrifice being necessary!
There was a well known case a few years ago, Omar said, of a young boy who was killed by his aunt because the Sheikh told her that there was a tomb filled with gold beneath their house in Old Gourna and that if they killed the boy the djinns would then allow them to get it without causing havoc. The aunt was arrested, taken to court and sentenced to spend time in a mental institution. A few months later she committed suicide, apparently having ‘woken up from the ‘Sheikh’s’ spell and realising that she had killed her nephew! These so-called Sheikhs make a lot of money from ripping off poor and gullible people!
I was amazed on hearing this story. It would never have occurred to me that people would go to such lengths to procure money. But, with everything that goes on in this continent and the Middle East perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised!
As it turned out in our case, thankfully, the child hadn’t been kidnapped and murdered to sacrifice to a djinn! But she had been kidnapped for money! Since the revolution there has been less money, due the fall in tourist numbers, so people turn to crime to get it. We have a lot of kidnappings, where people steal a man and then demand a ransom from his family. But this was the first child theft..and as it turned out there were two children kidnapped. The first was the young girl, kidnapped from in front of her home by the men who buy scrap metal from people. They took her and the three gas bottles from in front of her home. The second child was the son of a wealthy man who owned a string of shops.
As soon as the girl went missing there was mayhem but all of the locals got together, bringing their guns and sticks and motorbikes and went to the village where these men worked. If they hadn’t stolen the gas bottles people probably would never have found out what had happened or where the children were, but they did steal them. All you have to do in villages here is to ask other people and you will soon find out what you need to know. so having found out that the child was in one particular’ man’s home, everyone went to that house, dragged out the young guy who was part of an organised gang, and roughed him up. He spilled the beans on the gang. They were asking the girl’s family for 750.000LE. The boy had been taken to another house on the East Bank and they were asking his family for 4 million LE! But, now that the girl had been rescued, the hundred’s of people who had marched to the house, cutting off all the roads into the West Bank, now travelled to the East Bank to get the boy!
Here in Luxor, if a child goes missing the police will not do anything until 48 hours have passed but the people were not willing to wait that long and they were pretty fed up with these gangs who want to steal from them. Its one thing to kidnap a man but quite another to steal a child. The police turned up because they had to. But everyone knows that it is the police who will take all the credit for having found the gang and the children!