Fetish for titillating fatawa: Tunisia’s “sexual jihad”

As of late there have been several alleged fatawa attributed to popular Salafi or pro-jihadist sheikhs. Many of the alleged fatwa prove to be fabrications. An article on pathos provides a summary with examples, including fatawa allegedly endorsing gang-rape, banning phallus-shaped food for women, permitting necrophelia, and endorsing divine sodomy. So there seems to be a fetish for forging titillating fatawa, especially those endorsing forbidden sex and sexual violence.

The latest installment of titillating, fabricated fatawa comes via a story in Al-Monitor. The story mentions how innocent, gullible, pious, Muslim women from formerly-secular Tunisia—under the influence of Salafism and errant fatawa—are heading to the battlefields of Syria to offer comfort-sex to rebels as a form of “sexual jihad”. The sheikh who was listed as the source of the fatwa denied having issued it.

The author of the latest fabrication deserves some credit for creatively weaving in so many things sure to grab media attention.


So why is the media creating an erotic fan-fiction fatwa genre? Is it as simple as knowing their markets: that sex and violence sell, so Muslim sex and violence will sell even better?