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Forum Post: How progressive AlterNet and Salon fell for “gang rape” fatwa peddled by Islamophobes

Posted 1 year ago on Jan. 3, 2013, 10:41 a.m. EST by Savimbi (-10)
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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 But the story has – as of this writing – not been retracted (see update below), and even worse, it was picked up by Salon.com whose story has not – as of now – been amended with the denial.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 widening 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.

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