UK health and social workers and those in the criminal justice system are increasingly having to understand belief in spiritual possession among ethnic minorities, with new research highlighting a particular issue with some sections of the British Asian community blaming mental health problems on the supernatural.
The exorcist Abou Mohammed sits cross-legged on the floor of a back-room in his home in Ilford, East London. He is surrounded by copies of the Koran, containers of olive oil and a spray-bottle of water which he uses on the Jinn, the supernatural spirits, that he says possess many of his clients.
Mr Mohammed, who goes by the title of Raqi, has a waiting list several months long and charges £60 for a one-hour session.
Among British Asians the belief in evil spirits is not uncommon and some ailments, particularly mental health issues, can be attributed to possession by Jinn rather than a medical problem. As well as the misdiagnosis of mental health problems there have been other extreme consequences to the attribution of possession. In September this year four members of the same family were found guilty of the murder of 21-year-old Naila Mumtaz in Birmingham.