CAIRO: The father of a 27-year-old woman was detained Sunday for facilitating her beating to death by a man claiming he was exorcising jinn (a spirit) from her body, Youm7 reported.
The family of the woman, identified as Shaimaa, asked Saleh Mahmoud, 36, to help their daughter who “had severe psychological problems and was not able to hold a good relationship with her husband,” Mahmoud told the prosecution.
Mahmoud, who is famous in his area in Alexandria for “unlocking spells” in return for money, ordered the father, 63, to tie Shaimaa down. The family witnessed the beating and was too scared to intervene because they trusted Mahmoud, who had ordered them not to interfere, he said in the investigations.
The family said that they reached out to Mahmoud after taking their daughter to several psychiatrists in Alexandria and Menoufia in the Delta, where she lives with her husband.
Mahmoud, who is the head of the social committee of Salafi Nour party in Bahig rural town in Alexandria, told prosecutors he believed a spirit had “married the victim” and that “beating the spirit in the woman’s body with a stick would get it out.”
He admitted to wounding Shaimaa in her feet to facilitate the exorcism, saying that he learned his ways “from books.” But after a while of beating, Shaimaa started bleeding “from everywhere” and stopped screaming, he said.
Her family, then restrained him and locked him in a room as they took her to a hospital, but she died on the way on Friday, he added.
The victim’s family and some witnesses told the prosecution that Mahmoud exploits the trust some people have in bearded men [ seen by some as a mark of piety], alleging that hence he attracts people who need help and ordered fees from them.
Mahmoud, who other than his position at Nour Party is unemployed, faces charges of manslaughter, fraud, charlatanism, and witchcraft, while the father faces charges of complicity in the murder.
People who seek help in such ways are sometimes reported killed in the process, especially women.
Some Egyptians seek help from sheikhs and priests when they believe a supernatural power has possessed their homes or a member of their families. There are reports that exorcism and spells date back to ancient Egyptians.
Additional reporting by Hanaa Aboul Ezz