Maldives’ police investigate suspected black magic doll at polling station

Police were summoned to investigate an alleged black magic doll after it was discovered at the Shaviyani Atoll School polling station during the presidential election vote counting.

The suspicious ‘fanditha’ (black magic) doll was first noticed on the school’s wall by an Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) election observer as well as polling station officials on Kanditheemu Island during the vote counting process Saturday (September 7). They contacted local police to investigate the suspicious doll.

“The police just checked whether the doll was real [fanditha],” MDP Kanditheemu Campaign Manager Mohamed ‘Mox’ Fahumee told Minivan News today (September 9). “They did not actually want to get involved in such [black magic related] things.”

After the police were called to the polling station they – and local islanders – asked community members, the Shaviyani Atoll School’s site supervisor, and Bangladeshi labourers working at the school to try and discover who made the doll and with what intention, explained Fahumee.

“One of the laborers told us he made it ‘just for fun’ to pass the time, since they do not have very much work to do,” said Fahumee. “He made the doll from wool, putty, and wall paint and then placed it on the wall to dry.”

The Maldives Police Service had not responded to enquiries at time of press.

Fanditha fear

“On this island [Kanditheemu] people always talk about black magic during elections. They claim that government aligned parties – the Political Party of the Maldives (PPM), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), etc – practice fanditha to gain votes,” said Fahumee.

“When people talk about fanditha they become afraid,” noted Fahumee.

“Black magic might work, there are so many stories of people dying because of fanditha. During elections people talk about that and it spreads [around the island] very quickly, but they talk in secret,” he continued.

Swing voters who are not strongly in favor one candidate or political party versus another are particularly susceptible to fearing black magic will influence their vote, he explained.

“If they are finding it difficult to select a candidate and they are afraid [of black magic influence], they might vote for someone who does not represent their best interests,” he added.

Fahumee explained that while most island residents talk about possible incidents of fanditha, the discussions are conducted in secret, out of fear the island’s black magic practitioner will “come after” the person(s) talking about him.

Although not everyone believes in the power of fanditha, or “accepts those kinds of things”, it is still an issue – and precautions are taken – because it sows fear and uncertainty about the impartiality of the voting process, noted Fahumee.

More cursed coconuts

Concerns of black magic being used for election vote tampering have been raised on several islands in the Maldives.

MDP supporters on Guraidhoo Island in Kaafu Atoll reportedly began lining up to vote at 2:00pm Friday (September 6), after rumours began circulating of a black magic coconut buried at the front of the queue.

It is thought the candidate chosen by the first person in line standing over the coconut would then be the candidate picked by all remaining voters.

“We don’t believe in these things, but some MDP supporters waited just in case,” 25 year-old Guraidhoo resident Hussain Nadheef told Minivan News. “We will never let PPM [use black magic].”

Last week, police summoned a white magic practitioner to evaluate a young coconut believed to have been cursed by a black magic spell, after it was found near the Guraidhoo Island presidential election polling station.

Coconuts with black magic spells were allegedly being used to sway voters’ political party allegiance and incite confrontations between MDP supporters and police on Fuvahmulah, ahead of Saturday’s Presidential Election.

Given the widespread reporting of black magic election tampering and the cursed coconut issues on Guraidhoo and Fuvahmulah, Minivan News asked Elections Commission Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz whether the issue was raised by any election observers.

Fayaz noted that he had not discussed the issue with any of the observers, and had first read about the story on the UK’s Guardian website.

Asked if he felt that the additional international media spotlight on the election triggered by the coconut may have had a positive impact on the election process, Fayaz laughed and said “maybe”.

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Cursed coconuts on Fuvahmulah allegedly used to disrupt elections

Additional reporting by Ahmed Nazeer

Coconuts with black magic spells are allegedly being used to sway voters’ political party allegiance and incite confrontations between Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters and police on Fuvahmulah, ahead of Saturday’s Presidential Election.

A ‘kurumba’ (young coconut) suspected to have a ‘fanditha’ (black magic) curse, with Arabic writing and suspicious symbols burned into the husk, was found in the garden of a home located in Fuvahmulah’s Dhiguvaadu ward yesterday (September 4), a source from Dhiguvaadu ward told Minivan News today.

The woman who found the suspicious coconut in the early hours of the morning intended to inform the police, however the homeowners – “hard core” Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) supporters – told her not to do anything until an expert investigated the coconut first, said the source.

“Neighbors supporting President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP) live in the area, so they heard about the fanditha coconut and wanted to create problems, so they contacted the police,” the source continued.

“MDP and PPM have been running strong campaigns and have many supporters in the area, however GIP only has about 15 members,” the source noted.

“Since GIP has very few supporters, they are trying to redirect attention away from the other political parties to gain votes,” alleged the source. “GIP has told PPM that MDP planted the fanditha coconut, however they are telling MDP that PPM is responsible.”

“Neighbors a few houses away were awake around 3:00am that night and did not notice any suspicious activity,” said the source.

The source believes that GIP, PPM and Jumhoree Party (JP) supporters are trying incite unrest among MDP activists on Fuvahmulah – especially GIP by involving the police in the fanditha coconut incident.

MDP supporters on Fuvahmulah remain very upset about the violent police crackdown that happened after the controversial transition of power in February 2012, according to the source.

“When MDP activists see local police they are not good with them, they do not keep calm, there is always a huge scene, shouting, etc.,” the source explained.

“[However,] these days MDP [Island] Councilors are trying to the max to keep supporters calm,” the source continued.

“And the situation is very calm right now. It [the fanditha coconut incident] was nothing huge, just a very simple thing,” the source said. “There won’t be any impact on voting.”

Fuvahmulah police did not want to get involved in the black magic incident, instead they preferred to allow the family to take action independently, a police source told Minivan News today.

“If we get involved, it will turn into a big thing,” said the police source, in reference to inciting unrest among MDP supporters.

However, local media reported that police took possession of the black magic coconut.

The Maldives Police Service was not responding to calls at time of press.

Black magic sabotage

A black magic practitioner from Fuvahmulah allegedly cast spells on five yellow young coconuts – kurumba can also be green or orange – and gave them to another man to deliver to a specific key location, a Fuvahmulah island council source told Minivan News today.

The island council source alleged a person named *Easa cast a spell on five coconuts and gave them to *Moosa to deliver. However, Moosa left the coconuts on his bed covered with a sheet before going to work.

“Moosa’s wife was not told about the cursed coconuts, so she was shocked to find coconuts on their bed and called the police immediately,” said the island council source. “The police went over to the house and took the coconuts.”

“She thought MDP had cast the black magic spells because the coconuts were yellow,’’ the island council source explained. “Once Moosa found out what his wife had done, he told her it was very bad that she had reported it to police.’’

Moosa and his wife then went to get the cursed coconuts back from the police, but police refused to return them, according to the island council source.

The island council source noted that Easa made a typographical error when cursing the coconuts. The coconut curse says to “get rid of [PPM presidential candidate Abdulla] Yameen”, but was supposed to read “get benefits from Yameen”.

Furthermore, during the 2008 presidential election Easa also started practicing black magic a month before the election day, noted the island council source.

“Every day after dawn prayer he went to the beach and did black magic stuff. He also went near the polling station and threw cursed objects at people,’’ said the island council source. “[But] Easa’s spells did not work the last time.”

“This hasn’t been taken too seriously by the islanders, but the MDP supporters are very concerned,’’ the island council source said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the case, the source added.

Earlier this week, police summoned a white magic practitioner to evaluate a young coconut believed to have been cursed by a black magic spell, after it was found near the Guraidhoo Island presidential election polling station in Kaafu Atoll.

*Names have been changed

Spiritual healing

This is the second cursed coconut incident reported in as many days, related to the presidential election. To better understand this “very common practice”, Minivan News spoke with Spiritual Healers of the Maldives President and Exorcist, Ajnaadh Ali.

“During elections black magic is used to gain votes and make people ill,” explained Ali.

Ali suspects a spell was read over the Fuvahmulah fanditha coconut instead of inscribed, because the coconut reads “May Allah protect us from Abdulla Yameen”.

The black magic spell cast to influence voting “is a spell of separation. It’s the same idea as a love spell. It can either bring people together or split them apart,” Ali noted. “The black magic will attack them mentally, by demanding the individual think a certain way even if they would normally know something is bad. It makes them blind in the mind.”

“While any object can be used, because coconuts represent a life structure (like eggs) they use those objects to make the spell powerful, with the advice of the devil,” noted Ali.

“There is a long history of the practice in the Maldives, but it is still very common nowadays on every island,” he continued. “There is a lack of knowledge regarding the religion. Some people who do black magic think it’s right because the Quran is used.”

“In Dhivehi, fanditha means magic – black or white – but the way it is practiced is what makes it good or bad. Black magic is when people worship or invoke jins or devils to cause harm to others,” Ali explained.

“Black magic is practiced by misusing the Quran, chanting or writing verses and the names of devils or jins (spirits) to summon their help. It cannot be done unless someone has some disbelief of Allah,” he continued. “It it also disrespectful of the Quran.”

The best protection against black magic is reading Quranic verses, particularly the last two chapters of the Quran, said Ali. ‘Ruqyah’ is a form of white magic, specifically an Islamic exorcism where Quranic verses are read and prayers recited to heal.”

“Ruqyah will neutralise black magic to rid of the evil eye or any other spiritual matter, like jin possessions or mental illness,” he explained.

It can also be conducted for the benefit of worshipping Allah, he added.

“Any Muslim can practice ruqyah by themselves, however its more effective if they have knowledge of jins and the Quran. Also, they must be following the religion,” he noted.

The five pillars of Islam are prayer, fasting, alms for the poor, pilgrimage to Mecca, and declaring belief in one God, Allah.

A 1979 law requires persons wishing to practice fanditha to “write and seek approval from the Ministry of Health.”

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