Love Thy Neighbour: April 2003 Archives

April 30, 2003

Happy Samhuinn (last week apparently)

Another cruel attack on a horse has been blamed on Pagans, this time in Northampton.

Jo McGurk, 59, from Kingsley in Northampton thinks the fact that the attack took place sometime between Easter Sunday and Easter Monday is significant.

So, it must've been Christians, right? After all, that's the only religious group which considers Easter to be significant.

The end of the pagan year falls over the Easter weekend and I think that the attack on my horse could be linked with this, says Jo, who approached his local paper, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, in a bid to highlight the issue.

The sheer ludicrousness of this statement can be exposed by replacing the first six words with "Passover", which, unlike Samhuinn, did coincide with Easter this year. The poor horse suffered serious internal injuries after a broom was inserted in his rectum, though vets are pleased with his progress so far. Horror of 'sex attack' on horse - Horse and Hound, 29th April 2003.

April 29, 2003

Pagans banned in Edinburgh

Edinburgh City Council has gone ahead and wasted lots of money employing a private security firm to ensure that no-one uses the site associated with the festival to celebrate Beltaine. City bans public from Beltane hill - Edinburgh Evening News, 29th April 2003.

Note: I'm tempted to turn up, be refused onto the hill, and so just strip off and hold a ritual by the steps, by the main road.

April 21, 2003

Beltaine politicking

A candidate in the forthcoming Edinburgh City Council elections has sent the following letter to the press:

Having already killed off the popular Beltane Fire Festival, it seems that our City Nannies, supported by local Labour councillor Dougie Kerr, want to shut off Calton Hill to everybody just in case a few individuals wish to celebrate Beltane on their own account.
It seems that religious freedom means nothing to our culturally sensitive councillors - not unless that religious freedom pertains to the more conventional spiritualities.
Karen Hetherington
Liberal Party in Scotland Candidate
Calton Ward

Additional link: Liberal Party website

Tourists: spend your money in Glasgow instead.

Edinburgh City Council appear to be going to extremes to prevent anyone celebrating Beltaine this year. The Fire Festival has been cancelled and now the Council plans to seal off Calton Hill to prevent people having their own celebration. The official reason is that the dry weather means it could be a fire risk, but the drought has already broken, and it has been pouring down all day in Edinburgh.

City licensing convener Dougie Kerr, who is also the local councillor for the Calton Hill area, said he was concerned about the problem and would be looking into what might need to be done to stop unofficial celebrations.
We'll be looking at measures to ensure nothing takes place there this year. I've no problem with closing it off in the interests of public safety, he said.

Which will also annoy the regular users of this well-known cruising ground. The local council elections will be held on 1st May this year. Calton Hill fire fear on Beltane night - Edinburgh Evening News, 21st April 2003.

Leading pastor accused of witchcraft

Uganda: A well-known Christian minister has been accused of fraud and witchcraft by an American businesswoman who gave him money.

Pastor Kayiwa also is accused of being proud of his ability to punish (by cursing) those who challenge his power, demanding pornographic movies, selling off donations, and demanding a car when asked to pray for a horse in a £250,000-race.

The interview that never was makes fascinating reading. Pastor Accused of Witchcraft, Fraud - The Monitor (via, 21st April 2003.

April 20, 2003

A tricky task for the detectives

West Bengal, India: A man who strangeled and decapitated a 50-year-old woman had been acting on the advice of a witch doctor who told him she had put a spell on his children.

After the village quack failed to cure his children, Kisku was advised by some friends to see a witch doctor who promised to help for a fee of Rs 1,200. [£16/€23]
The poor man arranged for the money and an elaborate ritual was conducted. At the end of it, the witch doctor pronounced that Kisku's worries were because of a woman relative who had cast an evil spell on his children.
The witch doctor warned that he would lose his family if she were not killed.

The man then took her head to the local police station and confessed to the crime. About 70 women are killed each year in West Bengal on suspicion of practising witchcraft. Man beheads 'witch', takes head to police - Hindustan Times, 20th April 2003.

April 18, 2003

Witch beliefs in Tanzania

Tanzania: A 72-year-old woman is in a critical condition in hospital after a 15cm nail was hammered into her skull by attackers who believed she was a witch. The nail is buried deep in her head and although she has regained consciousness after three days, doctors are pessimistic about her chances of survival.

Killings of elderly people, particularly women, due witchcraft beliefs is rife in Lake Victoria regions of Shinyanga and Mwanza despite efforts being made by the government to stop this practice.

Most of the victims are being killed because their eyes are reddish. This is seen as a sign that they are witches.

However, studies conducted in the areas indicate that the cause of such 'red eyes' is smoke from fuelwood used for cooking.

Head of Shinyanga woman pierced with six-inch nailThe Guardian (Tanzania), 18th April 2003.

April 17, 2003


United States: Notorious Christian anti-gay organisation Focus on the Family has had to slash budgets and make staff redundant because it's short of cash. Anti-gay organisation falls on hard times - news, 17th April 2003.

More 'witch' killings

Guwahati, India: Four people have been arrested after three members of the same family were hacked to death by a mob who accused them of witchcraft.

It was believed Naotia was a practicing sorcerer and through his black magic he had cast evil spells on villagers, prompting a group within the village to eliminate them, the spokesman said.

3 hacked to death over witchcraft allegations - Hindustan Times, 17th April 2003.

April 11, 2003

Bloody kids.

South Africa: 36 schoolchildren are being questioned by police in Kanyamazane after a riot at their school. The riot started after a teacher was accused of using witchcraft to kill three children at the school, who had recently died in a traffic accident. Riot as teacher accused of withcraft (sic.) -, 11th April 2003.

April 10, 2003

The thick plottens

South Africa: A man accused of abducting and sexually abusing three children in Satanic rituals has asked to reopen his case to allow an expert witness on false allegations of abuse to be called. And in a strangely familiar twist, it turns out that the children only started to make the allegations after their mother started attending prayer meetings.

Hugo said the children's mother - who described a serious of strange and inexplicable events at her home, including her children going into trances, talking about devils and one of her sons chasing his siblings with an axe - was gullible.
Her prayer meetings to free her children from evil had probably left an indelible impression on them, Hugo argued.

The accused, Robin Malcolm Classen, is heavily tattooed and feels he is being persucuted because of his unusual appearance. He denies he is a Satanist and said that he only has a passing interest in the occult. 'Satanist' may reopen case - News24, 10th April 2003.

Islamic 'exorcism'

New Zealand: A man accused of killing an elderly cleaner at a mosque has pleaded not guilty due to insanity. Psychiatrists agree that Mohamed Hussein was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing. But he took a rather unconventional course of treatment:

He knew he was unwell and asked some Muslim men from Australia who were sleeping at the mosque for help.
In the week before the incident they conducted a number of religious procedures to make evil spirits leave Hussein. The last was done the night before the killing.

Insanity plea over mosque cleaner's killing - NZPA (via Stuff), 11th April 2003.

Anti-semitism in the former Soviet Union

Belarus: Trades unions and Jewish organisations are protesting about the distribution of a newspaper which they claim is anti-semitic and perpetuates the blood libel.

An edition of Russkii Vestnik [Russian Newsletter] appeared at the end of March exaggerating the myth that Jews use sacrificial blood for ritual purposes, the appeal reads. Those making the appeal believe that the newspaper was deliberately trying to cause national and religious hostility and should be punished in accordance with article 130 of the criminal code in Belarus.

Jewish Organisations in Belarus Protest against Distribution of 'Anti-Semitic' Russian Newspaper - Pravda, 10th April 2004.

Charles and Di were never this interesting

Malaysia: A princess has appeared in court to testify that she did not order a group of witchdoctors to kill her husband's second wife, insisting she only asked them to lift a spell on her husband which had caused him to go cold towards her and behave strangely. One of the witchdoctors admitted manslaughter and is now serving 14 years in prison. The (incredibly bizarre) case continues. Royal fairytale bewitched by sex and vampires - IOL, 10th April 2003; Mat Saad kept spell between his fingers, court told - Utusan Online, 4th April 2003.

April 8, 2003

God does nothing.

Arizona, United States: A man has gone to court in Tucson to try and claim his brother's body so he can arrange a proper funeral which the widow cannot afford. But it's the background to this sad tale which is interesting. Friends of James Killeen went to the police after they were unable to contact him. When officers entered his house they found members of his church, including his wife, praying over his body for his resurrection. He had been dead for at least three weeks. The cause of death was not directly stated by the newspaper, but they imply rather heavily that he might have starved after fasting as part of his beliefs. Brother in court today to claim Tucsonan's body - Tucson Citizen, 8th April 2003.

More from has a couple of interesting news stories today. Group fights deportation of Palestinian gays concerns the negotiations going on to allow gay Palestinians to claim asylum in Israel.

As in many Muslim countries, being gay in the Palestinian territories is treated as a crime against Islam. In most cases non-state actors, like the family, become the judge, jury and juror to decide a gay person's fate. Reports of Nazi-style treatment of openly gay Palestinians are common.

The article focuses on the case of 'Tarek', who is on trial for being in Israel without a permit and who faces death if he is deported to the Gaza Strip. He told Lior Mencher, the head of Aguda -- the Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered in Israel, I escaped from Gaza and came to Israel to live ? not to be returned to be killed. ? Where is someone to help me?

In the United States, extremist Christians are campaigning to have tomorrow's Day of Silence cancelled.

Organised by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the day involves students, faculty and staff taking a vow of silence to protest that harassment and discrimination can silence gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students in school.

Last year, over 150,000 people in 2000 schools took part. A number of groups who call themselves Christian have gone out of their way to prove the organisers' point. Steve Klein, of Courageous Christians United said:

This silence is ironic considering that sexual deviants, who compromise a tiny percentage of the general population, are among the most vocal and aggressive special-interest groups working to impose their fascist vision of unfettered sexual license on the majority of decent, moral citizens.

Other groups interpret the silence as a means of turning children homosexual! Clearly they believe that gay sex is so much better than the straight variety that anyone getting the slightest hint that it might exist is likely to want nothing else ever again.

Right wing bigots try to cancel Gay Day Of, 8th April 2003.

Phelps fails to protest (again)

Fred Phelps has gone back on a promise to picket a London performance of The Laramie Project for a second time. Over 100 activists, from OutRage!, the NUS, GALHA, Queeruption, Durham LGBTA, Salford LGB, Ladyfest London, and International Wages Due Lesbians were disappointed. "Fags" frighten off, 7th April 2003. See also Phelps fails to protestPagan Prattle, March 12th 2003.

April 7, 2003

Christian Aid

Iraq: A US Army chaplain is refusing to give water to those who need it unless they sit through a long sermon and are baptised first.

In this dry desert world near Najaf, where the Army V Corps combat support system sprawls across miles of scabrous dust, there's an oasis of sorts: a 500-gallon pool of pristine, cool water.
It belongs to Army chaplain Josh Llano of Houston, who sees the water shortage, which has kept thousands of filthy soldiers from bathing for weeks, as an opportunity.
It's simple. They want water. I have it, as long as they agree to get baptized, he said.

The chaplain has also hoarded fruit for future use. Army chaplain offers baptisms, baths, Miami Herald, 4th April 2003.

April 3, 2003

Offerings to Darwin

Osaka, Japan: Incense burning on a Buddhist altar has been pinpointed as the likely cause of a fire which killed a 73-year-old woman. Buddhist altar eyed as source of fatal Osaka blaze - Mainichi Daily News, 3rd April 2003.

April 2, 2003

Witch hunting in Nepal

Nepal: Several members of one familiy allegedly tried to burn a 76-year-old neighbour alive after accusing her of being a witch. Other villagers put the fire out before any serious damage was caused. According to the victim, a member of the accused family had earlier been caught trying to steal from her home. 'Witch-hunters' strike again - Kathmandu Post, 2nd April 2003.

Fluffy bunny Goddess at work

New Delhi, India: A 19-year-old youth has been charged with murder after he beheaded his 10-year-old friend as an offering to the goddess Kali. He told police he was only obeying Her orders. Indian teen sacrifices boy to goddess - IOL, 2nd April 2003.

How to win friends and influence people

Kenya: An Anglican Bishop has threatened to burn a sacred python believed to be a harbinger of good tidings by the Nyakach. Elders are also upset that their community has been portrayed as devil worshippers by the Church. Instead, they plan to build a park to house the snake and charge admission. Keep Off 'Sacred' Snake, Elders Warn Cleric - The East African Standard (via, 1st April 2003.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Love Thy Neighbour category from April 2003.

Love Thy Neighbour: March 2003 is the previous archive.

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