By Tim Binnall
Workers at an enormous cemetery in Iraq claim that the site is home to countless ghosts that have been known to attack gravediggers and leave them deeply unnerved by the experience. Located in the city of Najaf and measuring a jaw-dropping 2.3 square miles, Wadi-us-Salaam or the Valley of Peace is the world's largest cemetery. The sprawling graveyard is believed to be the final resting place for millions of individuals who have perished in the region over the last 1,400 years.
Considering the sheer number of people buried at the cemetery and its rich history, it's understandable why one might suspect that the location could be haunted and if the gravediggers working at the site are to be believed, it would appear that is the case. In a fascinating piece from Al Jazeera, several men employed at the cemetery shared chilling accounts of their own personal encounters with spirits and possible supernatural entities during their time on the job.
One worker, Haider al-Hatemi, recalled how "a shadow sneaked up behind me and hit my head violently," badly injuring the man and leaving him feeling as if "the ghost still haunts my body." The possible possession left his family penniless when they attempted to cure the man by enlisting a shaman and his wife eventually filed for divorce due to his increasingly erratic behavior. Another gravedigger also claimed to have been attacked in a nightmarish incident in which he was slapped by the body that he was burying!
"When I bent down, her hand slapped my face so fiercely that I was left petrified," Murtaza Jwad Abo Sebi said, noting that the body was tightly bound in a sheet and so it should have been impossible for such a strange thing to occur. The weird event so profoundly impacted the young man that he spent the next five years replaying the moment in his head and physically harming himself. After attempting suicide on a number of occasions, Abo Sebi was eventually 'cured' of the haunting experience thanks to psychiatric treatment.
Eerily, some gravediggers say that the cemetery is not only haunted by ghosts, but is also the home to the notorious supernatural creatures known as the jinn. "I saw it at night, jumping from grave to grave to feed on freshly buried bodies," revealed Hani Abu Ghnaim, who has worked at the site for over a decade and says that he carries a weapon with him at all times in case he encounters the entity which is known to locals by various names including Tantal, Bzebza, and Ghreria.
"We have all heard about Tantal for decades," revealed Abo Sebi, explaining that the job and, in turn, the stories are passed down from "generation to generation." Be that as it may, it would seem that not everyone is cut out for digging graves at the eerie site as he noted that "turnover is quite high. Our colleagues run away if the ghost gets involved in an incident." However, with Iraq currently struggling with unemployment, many shaken gravediggers, including Abo Sebi himself, have found themselves forced to return to the cemetery for work despite their certainty that the site is home to spirits that may do them harm.