Islamic exorcism follows in the trail of refugees in Europe

The flood of refugees from the Middle East into Europe is raising concern about the mental health and adjustment of these newcomers, leading to the growth of Islamic healing and even exorcism practices and groups, reports America magazine (January 2). There has been a reported rise in mental health issues among the approximately 10 million immigrants coming into Europe. Writer Erik Raschke notes that a 2008 study linked mental illness to immigration. Focusing on the Netherlands, he notes that immigrants living in white Dutch neighborhoods were more than twice as likely to have forms of schizophrenia. While immigrants are finding it difficult to find mental health treatment, “practices of exorcism related to Islam are growing in popularity…. Though not all Muslims recognize exorcisms as part of their faith…clinics that prescribe so-called Islamic remedies are sprouting up around Europe. Examples of such remedies are hijama, a traditional method of cupping and bloodletting, and ruqya, a ritual that includes recitation of the Quran,” Raschke writes.

These practices are also increasing in Islamic countries, so much so that conservative political parties are trying to ban them. In the Netherlands, the exorcists claim that many of the mental health problems are actually the work of jinns or demons. Other organizations blend Islamic remedies with Western methods, such as the Parnassus Group. Patients at this clinic see it as a last resort for their mental distress, and the therapists and doctors see “jinn possession as both a psychological problem and a social, spiritual and cultural ailment…. While it may seem eccentric or absurd to some, a jinn exorcism coupled with mental health therapy can be far more effective, not to mention cheaper, than years of antidepressants on their own,” Raschke concludes.

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