Searching for missing airplane: Malaysia deploys witch doctors


Search for airplane takes bizarre twist, finding airplane by deploying coconuts


Tarek Fatah

By ,Toronto Sun

First posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 06:15 PM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 06:23 PM EDT

Ibrahim Mat Zin, centre, a local well-known “bomoh”, or shaman, holds two coconuts as he performs a ritual to help find the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in a ceremony at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 12. Damir Sagolj/REUTERS

One of the little-mentioned yet conspicuous facts in the ongoing mystery of the missing Malaysian airlplane is the Muslim character of the drama.

The plane took off from Malaysia, a Muslim country.

Both pilots were Malay Muslims.

The two suspects (later discounted) who had boarded the plane on false passports were Iranian Muslims.

A group that reportedly claimed responsibility for hijacking the aircraft, if that’s what happened, identified themselves as Muslim Uighurs.

The countries where it is speculated the plane may have been heading — Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan — are Muslim.

If all that wasn’t enough, as a Muslim, barely a day goes by without my co-religionists being in the news as either perpetrators or victims of violence, at the centre of one crisis after another.

There is bloodshed involving Muslims in Baghdad, slaughters in Syria, massacres in Nigeria and the plight of Crimean Tatars.

We Muslims have also developed a penchant for creating some silly spectacles.

While the rest of the world deployed its best technology, resources and manpower to help locate missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, conspicuous by its absence in that search was much of the Islamic world.

And one example of efforts to determine the plane’s fate is likely to be greeted with laughter in other countries.

Meet Ibrahim Mat Zin, a Malaysian cleric who is also the country’s top ‘witch doctor”.

None other than the Malaysian government reportedly allowed him to help look for the missing plan, in his unique fashion.

Mat Zin is famous in Malaysia, credited with performing miracles with his chants and prayers.

He is a “shaman” also referred to as “Bomoh” or “Raja Bomoh Sedunia Nujum VIP.” Bomoh went to the Kuala Lumpur airport and performed a bizarre prayer Monday to help locate flight MH370.

Chanting “Allah-o-Akbar” while holding two coconuts in his hands, the cleric asked his three disciples to pretend they were paddling on the floor of the airport, while he looked through hollow bamboo binoculars towards the roof of the airport.

As dozens of journalists and camera crews watched in amazement, the witch doctor and his crew paddled in circles and then came out with this profound pronouncement:

“I think the plane is still in the air or has crashed into the sea.” According to Free Malaysia Today, a spokesperson from the Malaysian prime minister’s office had earlier said the government welcomed any help in tracing flight MH370, including from “bomohs”, as long as their methods did not contravene the practices of Islam.

It was a sad spectacle and said a lot about the state of affairs among Muslims, if these medieval practices are still conducted in Malaysia, thought to be among the most progressive of Muslim societies.

One Internet user on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, delivered the ultimate insult, writing, according to the South China Morning Post that, “China deployed 10 satellites, Malaysia deployed a few witch doctors.”

Back in April, 1970, I remember how human ingenuity, teamwork and technology saved the crew of the badly damaged Apollo 13 spacecraft, and brought the astronauts safely back to earth as the rest of us sat on the edge of our seats.

The crew and passengers of MH370 may not be that lucky, but we know the best minds of the world are at work trying to locate them.

We also know that none of them is a Bomoh or witch doctor.

Categories: Malaysia

4 replies

  1. AL-ISLAM is being hijacked again.

    When can’t certain Muslims get out of their Morass Situation?

    Umar Solim – England.

  2. Mr. Tarek Fatah, the Malaysian government is doing everything possible with the help of other countries to find the plane. You sit far away and make comments on Malaysia, you do not know to what lengths the military, the police, security agencies – everything and everybody is working hard to find and ease the pain of the families. A “bomoh” with no sanctions from the government makes news, PM Najib may not be popular, but the people who are working ceaselessly with heart and hope every single day don’t get mentioned. Even the western media take the quotes of a Malaysian expert and make it sound like their own when it is an intelligent take on the matter – but anything stupid will be attributed to being Asian or Malay. This article is not balanced, please don’t write like this.

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