Sydney Morning Herald
March 14, 2014
Kuala Lumpur: As Malaysia’s government struggled to defend its handling of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, controversy has erupted over a witch doctor who carried out a ritual at the capital’s international airport, who claimed he was trying to find it.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the government had never before embarrassed itself to this extent on the international stage by allowing Ibrahim Mat Zin, the witch doctor or shaman, to perform a ritual in public that was an affront to Islam.
Malaysia is a predominantly Islamic country.
Mr Ibrahim, the witch doctor, used a supposedly magic carpet, held coconuts aloft and mimicked paddling before a group of reporters and photographers at the airport.
He claimed the symbolic ritual would help “weaken the bad spirits so the rescuers can find the plane if it indeed has crashed”.
Video of the scene went viral online, drawing ridicule around the world.
Malaysian authorities responded by sending seven Islamic religious department officers to the airport to prevent Mr Ibrahim or any other shaman performing rituals that would be seen by Muslims to be contravening the teachings of Islam.
“Anyone going against sharia [Islamic] principles will be asked to disperse and if they refuse, we will arrest them,” said an Islamic department spokesman, Zaifullah Jaafar Shidek.