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Shamans using sites like Facebook for black magic, says Malaysian official

A communications officer with a government ministry has reportedly warned people against posting pictures of themselves on social media, lest they be used in black magic rituals.

A Puja Pantai ritual in Malaysia offers blessings to the sea. A Malaysian official warns that shamans may be working their magic online.
Mukhriz Hazim/NurPhoto/Corbis

As shown by the recent news of ransomeware aimed at Macs, surfing the Internet can be hazardous. According to one Malaysian official, one of the risks is opening yourself up to black magic.

Jazannul Azriq Aripin, a communications officer at government ministry CyberSecurity Malaysia, said he's aware of cases where shamans, or "bomoh," have snagged pictures of their victims from social-media pages to perform black magic rituals.

"Do not be surprised if the 'bomoh' themselves are getting smarter and they may have installed wireless broadband to launch their black magic," he said, according to local media. "So, avoid uploading pictures of yourself to avoid the threat of black magic."

In earlier times, from around the 17th century onward, people in Malaysia considered bomohs to be healing medicine men. But in recent decades, Malaysian society has become more suspicious, accusing them of black magic. A couple of years back, a shaman named Dato Mahaguru Ibrahim Mat Zin made headlines when he used equipment such as bamboo binoculars in an effort to help locate the passengers of the missing flight MH370.

The department Jazannul Azriq Aripin works for, CyberSecurity, is an agency launched in 2007 under the auspices of the Science Technology and Innovation Ministry. As its name suggests, it aims to tackle cybersecurity issues.