This piece was originally published at PolicyMic.
By now you have probably already heard of the harem of Tunisian sex-warrior slaves heading to Syria in order to give up their young bodies to the appetites of deprived rebels to fulfill ‘jihad al-Nikkah’ — “Sexual Jihad” — and are coming back to the country with bellies full of Jihadi babies. Unfortunately for what seems to be that blind spot people have when it comes to stories on Muslims and sex, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of Tunisian female warriors going to fight a holy sex war.
Sucks, I know.
Despite the lack of clear evidence of a sex war pandemic, this hasn’t stopped news media outlets all over the world from grabbing, expanding and running with this story.
In December 2012, Lebanese news channel Al Jadeed reported that hardline and popular Salafi scholar Shaykh Mohamad Al Arefe, a loud and inciting opponent of the Syrian regime, had issued a fatwa (a non-binding religious opinion) allowing the gang rape of non-Sunni Syrian women by rebels. Not only did the scholar vehemently deny expressing any such opinion, on Twitter and in later sermons (both links in Arabic), but the story was debunked by the Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah.
On March 27th of this past year, the Pan-Arab news site Al Hayat, published a piece discussing the apparent crisis of young Tunisian girls and what was being referred to as “Sexual Jihad.” It claimed that the impetus behind this was another fatwa from Al Arefe, in which he urged young women to go in engage in the so-called Sexual Jihad by offering themselves to the rebels. There was, however, no proof of this fatwa and those close to Al Arefe also thoroughly denied the cleric had ever made such a ridiculous statement.
According to the report, thirteen young Tunisian girls had gone missing, believed to be in Syria engaging in the ‘Sexual Jihad.’ The story gained traction in Arabic social media circles when in a video, parents of one of the girls claimed that their 17 year old daughter, who had since returned home, had been ‘brainwashed’ by friends with ‘Salafi Jihadi’ leanings who told her to go to Syria to temporarily marry and have sex with rebels. Iranian news station, Al-Alam, also released a video claiming to be interviewing one such girl (Arabic).
While Tunisia’s Minister of Religious Affairs, Noureddine El-Khadimi, condemned such religious opinions, there seemed to be no actual evidence of anyone — Al Arefe or any other scholar — issuing such a decree.
In July, ‘Sexual Jihad’ popped up again in headlines when following protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Rabaa, reports emerged — based on a questionable Facebook question — that female MB supporters were preparing themselves for ‘Sexual Jihad’. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya, which supported the crackdown on MB supporters, was one of the first to report on the issue.
“Sexual Jihad,” however, didn’t go viral until last week when AFP and Al Arabiya were amongst the first to report that that in an address to the National Assembly last Thursday, Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi ben Jouddou mentioned how young Tunisian women were being lured into a “Sexual Jihad” in Syria, having sex with “20, 30, 100” rebels and were returning to Tunisia pregnant. [Read more...]