A tragic incident in France seems to be raising as many questions as it does eyebrows.
A baby has died and 10 people have been injured after they jumped out of a second-floor flat window, apparently thinking they had seen the devil.
Police are investigating the incident which took place in the early hours in the small town of La Verriere, west of Paris.
The baby was four months old and officers said many of the injured were children.
"Thirteen people were in an apartment on the second floor when, at around 3am, one of the occupants heard his child crying," said Odile Faivre, the deputy prosecutor in Versailles.
"The man in question, of African origin, who was completely naked, got up to feed his child, at which point the other occupants took him for the devil.
"He was seriously wounded in the hand after being stabbed with a knife before he was thrown out of the apartment, via the door."
The 30-year-old man then tried to force his way back into the room.
"That's when the other occupants tried to escape by jumping out of the window, panicked by a fear of the devil," said Ms Faivre.
. . .
Seven of those injured - who were African, possibly from Angola - were taken to hospital for emergency treatment.
There's more at the link.
Other reports indicate that there were no 'hallucinogenic substances' found in the apartment, and no evidence of any weird quasi-religious rituals having taken place. European reporters and authorities seem at a loss to explain the incident.
Being an African myself by birth (albeit of the Caucasian variety), I can understand it all too well. Primitive superstition is alive and well on that continent, and has spread from there wherever its people go. I've personally witnessed 'witch-hunts' in African villages, resulting in serious injury or death to those so identified. (South Africa still has several villages in its northern provinces that are under 24-hour police protection. They're the only places where those accused of witchcraft may live in relative safety. If they leave those villages . . . ) Lawdog's seen it too: a goat put on trial, condemned to death, and actually executed for being a human being who transformed himself into an animal, and all that sort of thing.
Readers may remember Robert Heinlein's dictum (which was probably old before he was born): "You can take the boy out of the Bible Belt, but you can't take the Bible Belt out of the boy." The same applies to those from Africa and their primitive folk beliefs. It takes more than one generation to separate them . . . and sometimes, as in this case, the results are tragic.