FNC wants tougher laws against sorcery

Stronger legal action is needed to fight those claiming to possess magical powers, legal experts have said.

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ABU DHABI // Lawyers and a member of the Federal National Council have said a 1983 law that considers sorcerers con artists was insufficient, and have called for the law to be amended to allow harsher punishment.

"Magic and sorcery has nothing to do with religion," Salim Al Ameri (Abu Dhabi) said. "It only affects people badly."

He recently recalled a case he heard of a “sorcerer” who told someone he could make the sky rain money.

“Some people believe this,” he said. “Sorcerers say ‘I can help you get a job’, and people believe them. We want to protect people in society from this.”

Prison sentences for those found guilty should exceed the current three years, he said.

"There should be a law against them. If caught, they should face severe punishment, and we must warn people from seeking their help."

Nehro Mohammed Haggag, of Law House Abu Dhabi, said putting such crimes under another unspecified clause was a “legal flaw”.

“There is no clause in the penal code specifically targeting these crimes,” he said. “They are under shams, which is not right because shams are those that are taking others’ money through fraud, but with sorcerers, they might be after something else.”

Harsher punishments would force the practitioners to abandon the practice, he said, and people who seek their services should also be punished.

“They should be fined,” he said. “Because the person who goes in this direction, either his education is limited, or he has little knowledge and he goes to these people thinking that they can solve their problem. But if they do it a second time, then they should go to prison for seven days.”

But Mr Al Ameri said a person who turns to charlatans should be treated as a victim.

“The victim only sought their help because they were facing a problem, they should not be punished,” he said. “If a man was robbed of his car, would he go to prison?”

Hadeya Al Hammad, an Emirati lawyer in Abu Dhabi, said charlatans should be considered a scam under the law, but as it was a form of blasphemy it needed a stronger sentence.