BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 12 (UPI) -- A young man playing guitar near a cemetery in Beirut was arrested and referred to court Wednesday on suspicion of being a follower of "devil worshippers."
Lebanese general prosecutor Judge Adnan Addoum referred the man, who was not identified, to the General Prosecution for further investigation.
The suspect was arrested while he was taking drugs and playing guitar near a cemetery. Police forces also found with him masks, symbols and documents that allegedly encouraged worshipping Satan.
His arrest came after a series of rumors that swept the country recently about the killings of some children by devil followers.
Addoum denied the incidents and blamed them on "rumors being spread" in a dramatic way to create chaos and sabotage the Lebanese society. He said the government was adopting measures to confront such a "devil worshipping phenomenon."
Several people, including teenagers, have been rounded up in the past few days in various regions, but they were later freed after their families promised to watch them. They were accused of taking part in "devil worship" practices and of taking drugs.
Suspicious tapes, twisted crosses, bones and skulls were also seized.
Similar arrests of suspected devil worshippers have taken place in Morocco, where a court sentenced 14 people Thursday for participating in such rituals as listening to hard-rock music that purportedly glorified Satan. Human rights groups protested the sentences, which ranged from a month to a year, as violations of humanitarian law.
The same Beirut judge on Wednesday referred a Lebanese journalist for interrogation by the General Prosecution for writing an article deemed harmful to religion.
Akel Aweet, a writer with Lebanon's leading An Nahar newspaper, wrote a front-page article published Tuesday titled "Letter to God" in which he defied God to prove he exists by stopping the United States and Israel from pursuing their "evil" plans against Iraq, the Palestinians and other parts of the world.
The article by Aweet, a Christian, provoked the anger of Muslim extremists in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli, where citizens called for copies of An Nahar to be burned and pledged to prevent the newspaper's distribution in the region.
Addoum ruled the article contained some harmful comments about the Creator and denigrated religious beliefs.
An Nahar defended Aweet by saying he was a faithful man who meant to express his suffering and frustration over developments in Iraq.