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The Fabricated Fatwa Of the Saudi Cleric: Zionist And Islamophobic Connections

13 January 2013

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace): 

About nine hours ago I responded to an unfortunate report that was being disseminated through one of the online groups that I'm connected with. The report contained the outrageous claim that a Saudi cleric had issued a "fatwa" that permitted the rape of Syrian women by the so-called liberators of Syria. (That alone should have raised a number of red flags for any thinking person!) 

My response was as follows: 

This so-called "fatwa" is so bizarre, and violative of Islam, that I was immediately interested in checking the source. It should be noted that on the website where this is found there is also an editor's note (not included in the forwarded release) which reads as follows: 

Editor's Note: Muhammed al-Arifi, the Saudi cleric in question has denied he issued the fatwa below. AlterNet will provide a translation of his statement shortly.  

Now whether he issued this abominable opinion or not, I think it's important that when we send out such damning information (which for some legitimizes built in prejudice), we send out all relevant information. 

It now appears, as I suspected, the fatwa story was a complete fabrication. For those who are capable of rising above their own biases or prejudices - esp. where it applies to the areas of religion and politics - allow me to shed a little light on the intrinsic nature of a fatwa. In order for a fatwa (a legal ruling issued by a qualified religious authority) to be LEGAL, it cannot violate the two major sources of Islamic jurisprudence: The Noble Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah (peace be upon him). 

It does not serve the interests of justice, nor truth, for mediums that are supposed to be "progressive" to disseminate such uncorroborated and salaciously tainted "news and information." And to my Muslim brethren who are justifiable critics of some of the shameful teachings and practices that emanate from "Saudi Arabia," let us remember the mandate given to us in the Qur'an (via the following rhetorical question): Do you call others to fair dealing and forget to practice it yourselves?   

I am personally not a partisan for either side in the ongoing Syrian conflict. I am for the people of Syria, and for the territorial integrity of that predominantly Muslim nation - and I don't see either of these interests represented by either side in this regrettable conflict. 

What's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong; and the dissemination of what now appears to have been a fabricated fatwa is clearly wrong. 

(See Ali Abunimah's timely and excellent blog release on the controversy below.) 

El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan

----------------------------------------

Blogs  Ali Abunimah's blog

How progressive AlterNet and Salon fell for "gang rape" fatwa peddled by Islamophobes

Progressive news organization AlterNet has fallen for and disseminated a story, pushed by Zionist, Islamophobic and Iranian outlets, claiming that a prominent Saudi cleric issed a religious edict authorizing sex-deprived fighters in Syria to rape women there.

Earlier today, AlterNet claimed:

 

A prominent Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa (a religious ordinance) that calls for the gang rape of Syrian women. Expressing frustration that the "warriors of Islam" fighting in Syria may be getting weary for the lack of sexual pleasure, the religious leader issued a decree that promotes hours-long "intercourse marriages."

 

The story was later updated to include a statement that the cleric, Muhammad al-Arifi, had issued a denial. But the story has as of this writing not been retracted ( see update below ), and even worse, it was picked up by Salon.com whose story has not as of now been amended with the denial.

 

Al-Arifi is an ultra-conservative Wahhabi cleric with 3.5 million Twitter followers and more than 1.4 million Facebook fans. He has been prominent in calling Syrians to join the armed opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad and demanded that other countries intervene militarily and send weapons to overthrow it.

 

Al-Arifi has openly engaged in sectarian incitement against Shia Muslims, for example in this video from February 2012, which has more than 1.1 million views.

 

The claim about the "gang rape" fatwa should raise immediate red flags. It is reminiscent of other recent shocking claims about Muslims that turned out to be libels disseminated by Islamophobic organizations.

 

These include a false story  disseminated credulously by LGBT magazine The Advocate  that a Muslim cleric had issued a "fatwa" declaring that sodomy between men was permissible if it was for the purpose of widing their anuses for the insertion of explosives to carry out "jihad."

 

There was also the libel of a Muslim "rape epidemic" in Norway that The Electronic Intifada debunked a year ago.

 

Al-Arifi's denial

 

الشيخ محمد العريفي يكذّب فتوى زواج المناكحة

 

A video posted on YouTube on 1 January shows al-Arifi ridiculing the supposed fatwa, saying such a thing could never be said by any "sane person" and warning that he knows of at least nine social media pages that impersonate him and try to attribute words to him that he hasn't spoken. He also said that such falsehoods were disseminated by stations which he did not name whose goal is to harm the image of Sunni Muslims.

Al-Arifi also posted a denial on his Facebook page and on Twitter.

Embedded rich on Twitter

The Twitter denial includes an image of a fake tweet al-Arifi said was circulating online, which was an obvious hoax because it contained far more than 140 characters.

Genealogy of the lurid story

The claim about the "fatwa" was made on Lebanon's Al-Jadeed channel (New TV) at least as early as December 29. Al-Jadeed does not provide any evidence of the "fatwa" or say when, where or by what means it was supposedly issued. As of now, no one has produced any evidence that the "fatwa" exists, which means that no responsible news organization should behave as if it does.

 

News of the "fatwa" was then disseminated widely on social media in Arabic, particularly by personas eager to discredit opponents of the Syrian government.

 

What is also interesting is how it traveled through Zionist and American Islamophobic networks to AlterNet and Salon.

Iran's English-language Press TV carried a report on the alleged fatwa on its website. However it is not the Iranian report that appears to have been the most influential.

Effort to discredit Syrian opposition

On 29 December a Twitter user called @Eretz_Zen tweeted the New TV video except now with English subtitles and a logo with the words "Eretz Zen" obscuring the New TV logo.

Embedded rich on Twitter

Zionist and Islamophobic connections

On 1 January the English-subtitled "Eretz Zen" video was embedded in a report on the website RadicalIslam.org with the headline "Cleric Issues Fatwa Allowing Gang Rape of Syrian Women."

 

RadicalIslam.org states that it is supported by the Clarion Fund, which several years ago distributed tens of millions of copies of a virulently anti-Muslim film titled Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West.

 

As Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton reported, Clarion Fund is closely tied to the Israeli organization Aish HaTorah, and the group is at the center of a web of ultra far-right Islamophobic, Zionist and anti-Palestinian organizations. One of its "advisors" has been notorious anti-Islamic and anti-Palestinian agitator Daniel Pipes.

 

Another key figure in this anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic network is Frank Gaffney, another Clarion Fund advisor. Gaffney's Center for Security Policy sponsors Latma TV, an Israeli "satirical" show responsible for producing virulently anti-African propaganda and disseminating the Norway "rape epidemic" hoax.

 

What's notable is that the RadicalIslam.org report uses the term "gang rape" which also appeared later on AlterNet and Salon.com. The term "gang rape" does not appear in the New TV report.

 

This is a clue that perhaps the story traveled from ultra-right-wing RadicalIslam.org to "progressive" AlterNet without anyone raising any red flags.

Indian website jumps on the bandwagon

Notably the AlterNet report links directly to an Indian website called Daily Bhaskar that also carries the "Eretz Zen" video.

Daily Bhaskar appears to be a website that habitually reports lurid and dubiously sourced stories of non-Muslim women being raped and victimized by Muslims.

Going viral

It's a telling sign of how deep and common liberal Islamophobia is that even progressives at AlterNet will believe anything they hear and not stop to ask a question.

What these repeated episodes show is that it is easy for many people to believe negative and shocking information about unpopular and disreputable figures. When the claims are lurid especially involving sex and violence they spread more rapidly. And when they fit multiple agendas as in this case there's apparently no limit to how far they can go.

 

  EsinIslam.Com

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