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Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Saturday, 11 July 2009 12:30 UK

Saudi 'genie' sued for harassment

A family in Saudi Arabia is taking a "genie" to court, accusing it of theft and harassment, reports say.

They accuse the spirit of threatening them, throwing stones and stealing mobile phones, Al Watan newspaper said.

The family have lived in the same house near the city of Medina for 15 years but say they only recently became aware of the spirit. They have now moved out.

A local court is investigating. In Islamic theology, genies are spirits that can harass or possess humans.

'Get out of the house'

"We began to hear strange sounds," the head of the family, who come from Mahd Al Dahab, told the Saudi daily. He did not want to be named.

"At first we did not take it seriously, but then stranger things started to happen and the children got particularly scared when the genie started throwing stones."

He added: "A woman spoke to me first, and then a man. They said we should get out of the house."

A local court says it is trying to verify the truthfulness of the claims "despite the difficulty" of doing so.

Many Westerners know the term genie from the tale of Aladdin and the magic lamp, or the 1960s American sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie.

But the BBC's Sebastian Usher says genies, or jinn, in Islamic theology can be a lot more sinister.

They are believed to be normally invisible but with the ability to assume human or animal form, and are often said to be motivated by revenge or jealousy.

There is a lingering belief in genies in the Muslim world that predates Islam, our correspondent says.



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