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Devil worshipping rumors rife among children • Wednesday March 12, 2003

Youngsters scared to go out at night
The Daily Star (Lebanon), Mar. 12, 2003
Maha Al-Azar

Rumors involving supposed devil worshippers kidnapping children and extracting their hearts to drink their blood, or offering them as a sacrifices to Satan, are spiralling almost out of control.

Parents talk of how their young children are gripped with fear, and some are concerned that their businesses may be affected.

Julie Harfoush, a mother of a 9-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, said her children are unable to stop talking about the topic.

They are convinced that devil worshippers are around the corner and are waiting to kidnap them, she said. No matter what I tell them they dont believe me, because they hear their friends saying that they saw a real devil worshipper on television, discussing what they do in their meetings.

Tele-Lumiere, a private Christian television station, aired a report on devil worship last Sunday, and included a live testimony from an alleged former devil worshipper, who described in detail the orgies and bloody rituals she and her devil worshipping mates would partake in.

The young woman, whose face was blurred, recounted that cult members would strip young girls of their virginity and if an unwanted pregnancy resulted, the unborn baby would be offered as a sacrifice before the mother was due to deliver.

The station, which is giving the issue prime coverage, is urging young people not to wear black, to cover their tattoos and remove all body piercings, and also calling on young men to keep their hair short.

Devil worshippers supposedly dress in black, look grungy, have several body piercings, tattoos and long untrimmed hair and beards.

Another mother said that her 13-year-old daughter has refused to wait for the bus alone and is scared to walk in the streets after dark.

Other kids are looking for tools to protect themselves from the unknown and dangerous.

My teenage brother asked that we buy him a mace canister so he could protect himself against potential devil worshippers, said Hanan Nasser.

Its become a monstrous thing, said Harfoush. Every day theres a new rumor.

American Community School Middle School Principal Paul Combs told The Daily Star that the school held a general assembly for its students on Monday, after a rumor that a teenage girl was killed in a Dunes Center restroom had swept through the student body.

We focused on telling students how to discern rumor from fact, said Combs.

We also advised them on how to stay safe in public, by moving in groups and how to deal with any strangers who approach them.

Those most vulnerable to these rumors are elementary and young middle school students, especially those in the 9-13 age group.

It is unclear how the rumor started, but Samir Rayess, Dunes Center owner, told The Daily Star that the entirety of the devil-worship related stories, said to have taken place in the shopping and entertainment center, is a lie.

We filed a complaint with the police, Rayyes said, and the Verdun Merchants Association will be publishing a denial in all the media.

Although business hasnt yet been affected, Rayess is concerned about the future.

The most popular rumor involving mysterious devil worshippers, talks of one or more teenagers being found dead in the Dunes Center restrooms with their hearts extracted.

Other rumors involving Dunes also include stories of nails being placed on theater seats, entertainment equipment being destroyed and a girl being raped.

We have closed-circuit cameras everywhere in the center, said Rayess. They are in the elevators, in the movie the aters, everywhere, and we monitor everything.

Rayess also said that the center employs two or three security guards per floor and that they keep a watchful eye on everything.

If these rumors were true, dont you think that the police would have come and sealed off the center and investigated? asked Rayess in frustration.

Mothers are afraid and they cant take chances with their children, said Harfoush. Im really upset, but I dont have the tools to deny these rumors. I would like to see more facts.

l State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum has asked all security and police personnel to be vigilant in pursuing the phenomenon of devil worshippers, disclosing that 14 minors were detained Tuesday for questioning with regard to the practice.

However, judicial sources said that ten of them were released the same day after it was found that their offenses, such as sporting tattoos, did not constitute a crime.

Addoum said suspects had been rounded up in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, Nabatieh, Sidon and Jezzine two were handed over to the Mount Lebanon Public Prosecutors Office, on charges of desecrating tombs, while an individual in Nabatieh was charged with selling satanic DVDs and posters.

Separately, Beiruts Public Prosecutors Office filed a lawsuit against Syrian Abdel-Qader Abdel-Karim Kirwan, 30, who was allegedly selling four banned films that promote devil worship.

The films, whose titles were The Traces of Death, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, Living with Death and The Eucharist, were confiscated.

Judicial sources say that a lack of legal text allowing authorities to prosecute devil worshippers, is prompting authorities to find other crimes for which offenders can be prosecuted.

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