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Supernatural creatures accused of starting Dubai house fires

Almas Tower, center, at the Jumeira Lake Towers district in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, June 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Dubai homeowners have been claiming that supernatural culprits were behind fires in their homes, according to the Khaleej Times. The paper spoke to a police official who said that "jinn," a creature in Islamic mythology, is being accused of the crime along with "goblins."

Jinns – referred to as "genies" in English – are creatures mentioned in the Koran that are comparable to spirits or other supernatural beings in European cultures. One poll conducted by Pew Research Center found that 69 percent of Muslims across the Middle East believed in jinns.

In the United Arab Emirates, jinns have been blamed for a variety of problems. In 2011, residents in Dubai's coastal Jumeirah area complained of a variety of mischief being caused by jinns. “We have seen her, a woman who walks with her feet twisted. Anyone who looks her directly in the face goes mad," Liaqat Hassan, an Afghan driver who resides in Jumeirah, told Emirates 24|7

And in October of last year, a man was reported to have been granted a divorce from his wife because she was possessed by a jinn and would thus not sleep with him. The woman was not granted alimony, however, as the court decided she had not been honest about her jinn problem.

This time, however, authorities aren't buying it. Ahmed Mohammed, a senior fire expert at the Criminal Evidence Department of the Dubai Police, told the Khaleej Times that supernatural processes were most likely not causing the fires. Explaining the process behind investigating the fire, Mohammed explained, “The expert is all ears to the story, which he might not believe, as there have been cases in which a person or persons tell lies, and make weird claims that a jinn is behind the fire.”

Instead, Mohammed says that his investigations showed the fires were often started by the homeowners themselves, often through negligence, and they blamed jinns in the hope of compensation. He recommended they install CCTV cameras to prevent further disputes.