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Last week in Saudi Arabia nearly 200 elementary and middle school students "refused to attend classes after nine students claimed that genies — or jinn, as they are better known in the Arabic world — had made them sick" according to ArabNews.com
, which added that "the students had fainted and experienced spasms
at the start of the second semester, prompting many parents to believe jinns were present at the school."
Jinn are described in the Koran
, the Muslim holy book, as creatures made by Allah of smokeless fire. Belief in jinn is widespread throughout the Arabic and Muslim world. Just as many Christians readily accept the literal reality of angels, many Muslims accept the existence of genies as self-evident. Both religions share the belief that spirits such as demons and jinn can take possession of humans. Jinn are believed, like ghosts, to haunt buildings, homes and other locations.
It will often begin with one or two people exhibiting symptoms and as others in the same location see the behavior they unconsciously begin experiencing the same or similar symptoms. Episodes are most common in closed social units such as schools and factories
, and among females — likely because they tend to have stronger social bonds than males. The symptoms are not serious and go away on their own, often within hours or days.