Robert Spencer wrote Syria: Christians flee rebel areas as fatwa authorizes rape of non-Sunni women. He introduces an article from Independent Catholic News with his own comment: “According to the sheikh, capturing and raping Alawi or Christian women is not contrary to the precepts of Islam.” Imagine the outcry if a Christian cleric had said that capturing and raping non-Christian women was not contrary to the precepts of Christianity. But no one will take any particular notice of this.”
The same story was peddled by Raymond Ibrahim on David Horowitz’ Frontpage Magazine. (Spencer’s Jihad Watch site is also a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.) Ibrahim even brings up again the “gang rape fatwa” claim of another such fatwa by Muhammad al-Arifi which has been thoroughly debunked by Ali Abunimah in the article How AlterNet and Salon fell for “gang rape” fatwa peddled by Islamophobes.
Such false stories spread by the Islamophobia rumor mill have become common, and whether or not to respond to them has been a serious discussion within the Muslim community. As Robert Crane said in Gang Rape and Global Ethics: The New Challenge of Phobic Orientalism
… The question is whether the power of the internet to expose Islamophobic disinformation and delegitimize it is greater than the power of the internet to promote falsehood either deliberately or innocently, as in the case of Muslims who spread the now debunked myth of a Saudi shaykh legitimizing gang rape.
The Qur’an states that whoever is guilty of spreading defamatory tales about another person without proof is just as guilty as is the originator. But does this apply to one whose objective is to attack the story in order to bring out truth and support justice?
… The media industry of Islamophobia has been in full swing ever since the collapse of Communism almost a quarter century ago. One question is whether it would it be better to ignore it and instead explain enlightened Islam, or whether the emphasis should be on exposing and thereby spreading the lies of the Islamophobes as a means to stop it?
Perhaps there is no answer to this factual and moral question, but the power of evil going viral in the era of instantaneous communication by individuals to millions of other individuals makes this issue increasingly important in the new era of global ethics and normative jurisprudence, once termed “moral theology” in traditional Christian philosophy and now in Islamic jurisprudence called the maqasid al shari’ah.
Sheikh Musa Furber looked into the “facts” behind this latest story. He writes Latest Episode in the “Gang Rape” Fatwa Frenzy:
Earlier I wrote about the media’s (and public’s) infatuation with scandalous fatawa, like the“gang rape” fatwa currently making its rounds. This latest fatwa story made its way into English via an article in [Human Events] which attributed the fatwa to “Salafi Sheikh Yasir al-‘Ajlawni,” currently residing in Jordan and formerly in Damascus. Another piece by the same author links to a March 12 article on tayyar.org as its source. Ten minutes of digging produces an earlier March 11 article in Jordan News, naming the Salafi Sheikh as “Yasin al-‘Ajlawni,” currently residing in Irbid, Jordan. The article includes comments from a “Yasin Ahmad Yasin al-‘Ajlawni” who explains the backstory of his fatwa. He explicitly denounces calling for the rape of Syrian non-Muslim women and states that his fatwa called for protecting Syrian women from the rapes committed by the Syrian army itself.
The latest development comes in an April 7 article in Independent Catholic News concerning Aleppo’s Christian community. It includes the following:
Fr David [Fernandez, a missionary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word] said: “Yesterday, Yasir al-Ajlawni – a Jordanian Salafi sheikh, resident in Damascus, released a fatwa on Youtube, declaring that it is lawful for opponents of the regime of Bashar al-Assad to rape “any Syrian woman not Sunni. According to the sheikh, capturing and raping Alawi or Christian women is not contrary to the precepts of Islam.”
There is much wrong with this claim. First, the Jordanian Salafi would be “Yasin al-Ajlawni” not “Yasir al-Ajlawni.” Second, he is a resident of Irbid, Jordan, not Damascus, Syria. Third, Yasir al-Ajlawni denied making such a fatwa. Forth, the fatwa he referred to predates April 6 by many weeks.
There is a story here. But the story is not about actual gang rape fatwas but rather the use of hoax fatwas in the propaganda war against the Syrian opposition.
Are there some extremist Muslim scholars, and some who have issued fatwas that require a response from mainstream Muslim scholars. Absolutely! Are mainstream Muslim scholars attempting to counter these extremists with clarifying fatwas and statements? Absolutely!
Continuously coming up with these “fantasy fatwas” as part of an effort to demonize the entire Muslim community does no one any good. I have long wondered why it is that if Muslims and Islam are so terrible, why do Islamophobes find the need to make up so many lies in order to prove that allegation?
The fact that these “news stories” and articles are simply wrong doesn’t change the fact that they are “out there” and that they will be read and believed by many of the same folks who believe the supermarket tabloids. They will be forwarded or passed on, and commented on, and the stories will grow and more and more people will accept them as “facts”.
When Muslims are charged with something the word Islam or Muslim is attached to whatever crime they are accused of, and the story makes the front page headlines, when they are found not guilty or innocent, that goes somewhere on the back pages in small print.
The comments left on internet sites by the readers of these sorts of articles show the sort of response this sort of propoganda provokes. What I don’t understand is who gains by such demonization of an entire faith.
About that Supposed Egyptian Necrophilia Law & fatwa, Sheila Musajihttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/about-that-egyptian-necrophilia-law
About that “wear a veil or be raped story”, Sheila Musajihttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/about-that-wear-a-veil-or-be-raped-story
Crucifixions in Egypt & Al Azhar Fatwas Encouraging Violence?: More Islamophobic Nonsense, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/crucifixion-story
Cucumber “fatwa” seems to be only shoddy reporting, Sheila Musajihttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cucumber-fatwa
Exhibit A in How an Islamophobic Meme Can Spread Like Wildfire Across the Internet, Sanam Naraghi Anderlini http://www.alternet.org/world/exhibit-how-easily-islamophobic-meme-can-spread-wildfire-across-internet
Fatwas & Statements by Muslim Scholars & Organizationshttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_voices_against_extremism_and_terrorism_part_i_fatwas
Gang Rape and Global Ethics: The New Challenge of Phobic Orientalism, Dr. Robert D. Cranehttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/gang-rape-and-global-ethics-the-new-challenge-of-phobic-orientalism
Pamela Geller Wrong About “Sexual Jihad” Fatwa, Sheila Musajihttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/pamela-geller-on-sexual-jihad-fatwa
Geller and Spencer Fantasize About “Muslim Rapists” in Norway, Sheila Musajihttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/geller_and_spencer
Holier than thou: extremism against Islam, Sheikh Musa Furberhttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/holier-than-thou-extremism-against-islam
Islamophobes See “Jihad” Everywhere, Sheila Musajihttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/jihad-everywhere
The Media’s Infatuation With “Gang Rape” Fatwa, Sheikh Musa Furberhttp://musafurber.com/blog/blog/2013/04/04/the-medias-infatuation-with-gang-rape-fatwa/
Resources for dealing with Islamophobes, Sheila Musajihttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/there-is-a-reason/0019403
Sharia, Fatwas and Women’s Rights, Asghar Ali Engineerhttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/sharia_fatwas_and_womens_rights
Syrian rape ‘fatwa’ hoax exposed, Alexander Baron http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/347521
What everyone “knows” about Islam and Muslims, Sheila Musajihttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/what_everyone_knows
What is a fatwa? Who can give one? (supposed Al Azhar fatwa authorizing violence against protestors), Sheikh Musa Furber http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/what-is-a-fatwa-who-can-give-one
Yes, MEMRI, there is a Fatwa from Khamenei forbidding Nukes, Juan Colehttp://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/yes-memri-there-is-a-fatwa-from-khamenei-forbidding-nukes
RESOURCES FOR DEALING WITH ISLAMOPHOBIA SUMMARY
The Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade. They have a manifestofor spreading their propaganda, and which states their goal of “destroying Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion.” They produce anti-Muslim films. They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally. They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”
Currently, the Islamophobia Industry is engaged in a full-scale, coordinated, demonization campaign against American Muslims and Arabs. In just the past few months we have seen a series of inflammatory provocations: There was the Innocence of Muslims film Titanic, a German satire magazine plans an “Islam” cover article to be published later this month. Charlie Hebdo, a French satire magazine published an issue with inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Newsweek published their ‘Muslim Rage’ cover. Terry Jones held a “trial of Prophet Muhammad”. SION held a “global” gathering in NYC to plan propaganda strategy. A group in Toronto publicized a “walk your dog at the mosque” day. AFDI/SIOA has run a series of anti-Muslim ads on public transportation across the country. AFDI/SIOA are planning to run 8 more anti-Muslim ads. There are three more films on Prophet Muhammad in the works by Ali Sina, Mosab Hassan Yousef and Imran Farasat. They are even bringing their hate messagesinto public schools.
Daniel Pipes is encouraging publication of “A Muhammad cartoon a day”, and says “So, this is my plea to all Western editors and producers: Display the Muhammad cartoon daily, until the Islamists become accustomed to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.”. Pipes joins Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) who published an appeal on David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine Is It Time for ‘Make Your Own Mohammed Movie Month’?. And, both are following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Pamela Geller, who promoted just such a plan back in 2010 with her promotion of Draw Muhammad Day, even after the cartoonist who drew the first cartoon and suggested the idea, Molly Norris apologized to Muslims and asked for the day to be called off, and American Muslims had issued a defense of free speech. None of this is surprising as one of the Islamophobes laid out their strategy as “The Muslims themselves have shown us their most vulnerable spot, which is the questionable (though unquestioned) character of the ‘Prophet’ himself. We need to satirise and ridicule baby-bonking Mo until the Muslims fly into uncontrollable tantrums, then ridicule them even more for their tantrums, and repeat the process until they froth at the mouth and steam comes out of their ears.”
The Islamophobia of these folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences. The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes.
The claim that the Islamophobes are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence”, or thatnothing that they say could have had anything to do with any act of violence, are nonsense. The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist, or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense.
These individuals and organizations consistently promote the false what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims (including distorting the meaning of Qur’anic verses, and distorting the meaning of Islamic terms such as taqiyya, jihad, sharia, etc.).
The most commonly repeated false claims about Muslims and Islam are that:
Everyone “knows” that most or all terrorists are Muslims, and there are no Christian and no Jewish terrorists (or terrorists of any other religious stripe), and that Muslims are all militant, inherently violent, more likely to engage in violence against civilians, and more likely than other Americans to be radicalized.
Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not interested in dialogue. That Muslims don’t helpChristians in need. That Muslims can’t have Christians as friends, and are anti-Semites,Holocaust deniers, and intolerant of other faiths.
Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t unequivocally denounce terrorism, that American Muslim leaders have not responded to radicalization in their community, that mosques are the sourceof radicalization, that 85% of mosques are run by radicals, that Muslims don’t cooperate with law enforcement.
Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not equivalent to real Americans, that they are the enemy within, and a fifth column, that good Muslims can’t be good Americans, that Muslims are notloyal to America, that they are not a part of our American heritage,
Everyone “knows” that Islam itself is the problem and makes Muslims “backward”, that Muslims have made no contribution to the West, that Islam is “of the devil”, a Crescent menace, a“green peril”, that was spread by the sword, an “evil encroaching on the United States”, andnot a religion.
Everyone “knows” that this is a Christian nation, which the Muslims are trying to take over, starting with getting an Eid stamp which is the first step towards shariah law which is a threatto America, and a threat to our judicial system, by purposefully having more children than others to increase their numbers, and they will be the majority in this country in 20 years. Muslims are a threat to America
Everyone “knows” that the Muslims’ goal is world domination under a Caliphate, and the proposed Cordoba House in NYC is a demonstration of supremacism and triumphalism, and that Muslims planned to open it on the anniversary of 9/11.
Everyone “knows” that Islam is a monolith and all Muslims are the same, like the “Borg”. This means that every act committed by an individual who is a Muslim is directly attributable to Islam, and never because the individual is crazy, criminal, or perverted.
Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t have a sense of humor
Everyone “knows” that Muslims are like the Fascists and Nazis and that in fact they supported those movements.
The problem is that what “everyone knows” is wrong. These self-righteous and incorrect statements are usually followed by a demand that the Muslim community do something about whatever is the false flag of the day or face the inevitable consequences.
Islamophobes falsely claim to see “JIHAD” PLOTS everywhere, particularly where they don’t exist. They, like Muslim extremists, don’t understand the true meaning of the term jihad. The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking”, non-existent Muslim jihad plots.
Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam. Islamophobes consistently push demonstrably false memes such as: – we are in danger from creeping Sharia, – the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized, - There have been 270 million victims of “jihad” - There have been 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks since 9/11 - Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded. Muslim and Arab organizations and individuals are connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or theunindicted co-conspirator label, or accused of not condemning Hamas, telling American Muslims not to talk to the FBI, of being “Jew haters”, etc.
There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic. There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”. There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism. — the NYCLU reportReligious Freedom Under Attack: The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State. — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security. — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry. There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
See Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for many more reasons that these people cannot be trusted.
Sheila Musaji is the founding editor of The American Muslim (TAM), published since 1989. Sheila received the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2007 Islamic Community Service Award for Journalism, and the Loonwatch Anti-Loons of 2011: Profiles in Courage Award for her work in fighting Islamophobia. Sheila was selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan. Biography You can follow her on twitter @sheilamusaji (https://twitter.com/SheilaMusaji )