Demonology was always popular subject matter in the east. In the early church many believed demons would hinder the souls of martyrs from reaching heaven, the fallen angels would turn the martyrs into demons where the saints would simply be stuck wandering the earths atmosphere forever (demon= wandering spirit). The ginn is simply an arab extension of the abundant near east superstitions on demons.
The Bogomils of the 10th century were believed to control demons. In the Alexiad the princess Anna Komnene describes how the Bogomil leader was sentenced to death by fire. The guards were instructed just to touch his garments with the fire and not burn him on a stake just incase he indeed had the power to call upon a demon who would pluck him out of the fire, and in turn make this heretical sect even more popular.
The Gypsies have been known to be able to cast curses, and to this day pride themselves on having this talent and even making people 'unclean'.
The concept of witches wasn't what the East dealt with, afterall in the near-east the belief is that anyone can cast the evil eye even subconsciously. You ever googled the "Goreme Air Museum" in Turkey? They are monastery caves of the byzantine empire that have well preserved frescoes and icons. The thing is most of them have the eyes gouged out of the paintings. This is because the muslim turks believed the saints on the icons could give them the evil eye curse and were terrified of them.
The thing I find about the people in new England that your describing is the lack of cultural understanding found among those elites. People have their own beliefs and supersitions across the globe. Does anyone in New England call those thousands of American royalists that were murdered for siding with England during the Revolutionary war as a witch hunt that disproves the effectiveness of democracy? Was it a witch hunt in 1960's China's during the cultural revolution where believers in Feng Shuei were persecuted?
So yes, there was superstition and in some cases it was simply an attempt to stamp out heresy. Would this happen in the east? Probably not as the gypsies are still around. By the way gypsies have been persecuted (both by governments and by the people of those communities they inhabit) but not because of witchcraft (there superstitions of having the ability to curse would fall under witchcraft) its because their annoying (and that's being nice about it).
Edited by Kosta, 08 November 2013 - 07:41 AM.