A school in northern Malaysia has had to shut temporarily to handle what local media have called a case of “mass hysteria”. It started last week with several students and teachers of the school in the city of Kota Bharu claiming that they had seen spirits or had supernatural experiences. School authorities shut the school and called in Islamic traditional experts, scholars and even witch doctors in prayer sessions and “exorcisms”. By Sunday, the school had reopened and school officials said things had gone back to normal – but questions remain and the case continues to generate intense interest in Malaysia.
The school, SKM Pengkalan Chepa 2, is located in the highly traditional and religious state of Kelantan. Last week, a small group of students began claiming they had seen a “black figure” lurking in the school. Soon, more students and even teachers claimed to have seen the same figure or experienced a supernatural presence. One teacher told local news channel Astro Awani that she felt a “heavy” presence was hanging on to her, while another claimed that a “black figure” was attempting to enter her body.
A student meanwhile told newspaper Sinar Harian (in Malay) that he felt numbness in his hands while his mind “was all over the place”. About 100 people, mostly students, were affected, a senior school staff member confirmed to the BBC. “Our students were possessed and disturbed [by these spirits]. We are not sure why it happened. We don’t know what it is that affected us,” she said.