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.