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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Students warned against playing ‘Charlie’ ghost game

The 'Charlie pencil' game has been trending on social media and has been picked up by students at schools in the Emirates over the past few weeks, leaving many youngsters frightened and sparking complaints from parents who alerted the authorities.

AJMAN // A game modelled on ouija boards that claims to connect players with djinn is sweeping high schools, badly frightening young players and leaving parents worried about its effects.

The Charlie Pencil game has been picked up by pupils over recent weeks, despite warnings from parents, teachers, police and religious scholars.

The game involves placing one pencil on top of another to make a four-section grid on a piece of paper, with the words “yes” or “no” in each section.

Players chant “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?” believing the top pencil will move – which it eventually does because of its precarious balance.

Arwa Mohammed, a Palestinian Grade 10 student, said she played the game with five friends at school after watching videos on social media. Arwa said she did not believe in ghosts, but was very scared after playing it.

“We switched off the light and air conditioner so the pencil wouldn’t move because of air, and said ‘Charlie, Charlie, are you here?’” she said. “In the beginning, the pencil didn’t move. Then we repeated it three times.

“The pencil moved and we started running and shouting and got scared.

“Then we asked Charlie ‘Will you leave?’, and it moved to ‘no’. My friend started crying.”

After complaints from parents, Ajman Police visited schools to show students the trick to the responses and to reassure them.

“This game hits traditions and Islamic values so we have to tackle these tricks, starting at home to educate children not to be dragged into these games, and to monitor them,” said Capt Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director of Ajman Police’s social division. “If there is no surveillance from parents, we may get worse games.”

Capt Al Suwaidi said officers proved the game was a fake by showing students the trick to the pencil’s shaky balance.

Abeer Eissa, an Emirati mother of three, said she caught her eldest son playing it at home in front of his siblings, but quickly put an end to it.

“When I saw my five-year-old son saying ‘Charlie, Charlie’, I hit him and prevented him from playing the game. I told all my kids that if I see anyone playing this game, I will hit them.”

Ms Abu Ras, a Palestinian principal in Ajman, said she received calls from parents who were extremely worried about the effect it had on their children.

“This game has been spread last week and we heard there are students talking about it and wanting to play,” she said.

“We visited all the classes to make students aware that they should not play it, and to alert them of the risks because it messes up minds. Contacting a demon is not true.”

Dr Abdullah Al Hammadi, a religious researcher at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Ajman, said that although many Muslims believed in djinns, it was up to parents to discourage their children from playing this game.

Dr Al Hammadi urged youngsters to stay away from this type of game and asked parents to instil Islamic values into their children’s hearts, to protect them from dangerous games that may lead them to practise witchcraft.

roueiti@thenational.ae