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Exhibit A in How An Islamophobic Meme Can Spread Like Wildfire Across the Internet

World  (tags: 'HUMANRIGHTS!', conflict, crime, ethics, Islamophoibia, lies, middle-east, politics, Rumors )

- 1967 days ago -
The apparently fabricated story of a Saudi cleric issuing a fatwa condoning gang rapes in Syria is an object lesson in the pitfalls of breakneck online journalism.

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Kit B (276)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 11:04 am
(photo credit: alternet)

****Editor's note: On January 2, AlterNet was one of several outlets that published what turned out to be an article based on a false report. We would like to apologize to our readers for the error.

On January 2nd, the story of a Saudi Sheikh issuing a fatwa that condoned 'intercourse marriage' or gang rape in Syria exploded over the internet.

According to various sources, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Arifi had stated that foreign fighters in Syria had the right to engage in short term marriages to satisfy their sexual desires and boost their determination to fight against the Assad regime. Syrian girls and women from age 14 upwards were considered fair game and apparently secured their own place in heaven if they participated in these 'intercourse marriages'.

By the evening a simple Google search of the words, 'Saudi Sheikh' , Syrian, and 'women' brought up some 5 million references and at least 3 pages of links to articles spreading the news. Not surprisingly there was immediate online uproar too, though as one commentator put it, much of the discussion was about whether these arranged temporary marriages technically constituted 'rape'. This in itself is worrying.

There was also skepticism from many quarters about the veracity of the report, particularly among savvy Mideast experts. Rightly so. The story, much like the one a few months ago about Egyptian Islamist MPs proposing laws that permitted sex with a deceased spouse up to 6 hours after his/her death, turned out to be a gross lie. Sheikh Al-Arifi has issued a denial via his Facebook page. Over the next few days, the various websites and media outlets that spread the story will no doubt issue their retractions. But the story also raises many questions. For starters, where did it come from? AlterNet inadvertently picked it up from the overtly anti-Islamic Clarion Fund site. Others pointed to the Iranian regime backed Press TV as the primary source on December 31 2012. But the earliest English language reporting comes on December 29 from an obscure YouTube news site called Eretz Zen, tagged as a YouTube channel by a ôsecular Syrian opposed to having [his] country turned into a Taliban-like state."

What's extraordinary and depressing is that a slew of websites picked up the story and ran with it, some claiming legitimacy because the other had posted it and clearly no one bothered to do some basic fact checking. Arguably this is just the nature of the net and minute by minute news updates. The story was too sensational to give up. But one would imagine that if a similar story emerged about a Christian cleric or a Rabbi, someone, somewhere would have paused before posting it. Sadly, in the case of stories about Muslim clerics or Islamists the same red flags don't seem to apply.

Perhaps western journalists are so ignorant of Islam and the cultures in the Middle East that they are willing to believe anything. It's nothing new -- after all Western notions of the East were always immured in sexual decadence and the allure of harems. That was a trademark of the patronizing Orientalism of the past. Today we have a phobic version of Orientalism -- expecting and only seeing and reporting the bad and the ugly.

It's not just ignorance that fans these flames. The Syrian war is being manipulated by all sides and if journalists and their websites want to be taken seriously, they need to be bit more savvy about who's who on the net. The Clarion Fund is so extreme in its Islamophobia that it's almost satirical. Anything it posts must be taken with a pinch of salt and more. Press TV is the English language satellite station of the Iranian regime. Given that the Syrian conflict is turning into a de facto proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, it should come as no surprise that either side would opt for any smear tactics and propaganda for its own ends. Finally, the timing of the so-called story should have been questioned. It broke just as the world is up in arms about the gang rape and subsequent death of 23 year-old Indian woman by six men on a bus. It's hard to imagine this would be so coincidental.

The issue of sexual violence against women is serious and seriously under-reported everywhere, including in Syria today. There are countless stories to report on that are horrific and true. Yet time and again the news media opts to bypass the real cases, question the validity of sources or claim that these 'rape' stories are too graphic and sensational, while hopping on the band wagon of false stories that could themselves lead to more rape. Hopefully this fake news story will lose wind and die a quick death. But on the net nothing disappears forever. What if this story becomes a sort of urban myth of its own, morphing into a justification of even greater numbers of forced marriages, or even results in gang rapes? These things are happening all the time and there is always some rationalization behind them.

Sadly, sometimes a story like this takes a life of its own, despite the later retractions. For example, in Africa the urban myth that sex with a virgin can cure AIDS has lived on for years in shanty towns, cities and villages. From South Africa to Liberia, the numbers of child rapes - including of babies - has been reported - and too often the explanation given is that the rapists believed some myth about curing AIDS or gaining strength from a virgin's blood.

Regardless of the story or the country, the end result is the same. Women and girls are the primary victims and ever more vulnerable when these myths emerge. Hopefully the net explosion remains just that. Another blip, another day and then its done with no impact for the real lives of people on the ground in Syria. In other words one hope could be that all this news and journalism is basically inconsequential. But what a depressing way to think of journalism. I'd much rather see these writers dig a little deeper, investigate a bit further, reach out to legitimate active sources and sites to write up the true stories, the untold and unheard stories of Syrians today. Their stories of courage and resilience, their stories of striving for peace and justice for everyone and yes their true stories of sexual violence and torture. It's all there waiting to be reported on. It is much more sensational than a fake news story.
***please check links within body of article at VISIT SITE***

By Sanam Naraghi Anderlini | Alternet |

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini is Co-Founder of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) and a Senior Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies.

Patrick D (344)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 11:05 am
Unfortunately too many people will remember the myth and not learn the facts; this a basic cause of much hate in this world.

Kit B (276)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 11:34 am

True Patrick and hate comes much easier than acceptance. In the Middle East the primary religion is Islam and the cultural differences go beyond just religious differences. We hate what we do not understand. In the Far East there are many religions but the primary one is Buddhism, more people think they have an understanding of Buddhism so they are more willing to offer at least some acceptance. The walls of hate and bigotry can only be broken down with open minds and hearts and willingness to learn.

Sylvia Wulf (15)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 12:39 pm
Since I am a regular reader of Alternet, and have always assumed they vet their stories, I was one who shared this on Facebook. Today I shared this as well, with apologies. The problem is that we want word to get out when a wrong is done, but we cannot always be certain that our information is accurate. Today I ran across an article claiming that an Indonesian mayor want women banned from riding bicycles because they should not be straddling them. I didn't share it because for all I know that was inaccurate too :-(

Kit B (276)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 1:01 pm

Sylvia you are not the only one to share this story, all stories even from some "trusted" sites need to be vetted that is, if we want to be careful about the information we rely on - even Alternet and others make mistakes. I worry about the real reason why this story was spread like wild fire - I have seen it numerous times in the last few days on Care2.

Alexander Werner (53)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 1:13 pm
To me, it looks like the Sheikh something disgusting trusting that he is among "true believers" and when someone told what he preaches, he spit out an apology.

This Fatwa goes in line with Islamic teachings that the women on infidels are fair targets for "Freedom Fighters", so if this Sheikh admitted it or denied it makes a little difference.

Syrian rebels are Islamists of the worst kind. I don't know if they need any encouragement from some Sheikh. Just now, they beheaded a Syrian Christian and fed his body to dogs.

Kit B. did NOT note that article, of course. None of the usual Islamist Apologists did. Check for yourself:

Syrian Rebels Behead Christian & Feed Him to Dogs as Fear Grows Over Islamist Atrocities:

Same story about sex with the dead for the first six hours after death, that was discussed in Egyptian newspaper. They will deny it at any cost.

Now, when Al-Jazeera bought a TV Channel in US to better conduct its dawah, to get the true news will be even harder.

Past Member (0)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 4:15 pm

Yvonne White (229)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 5:22 pm
It reminds me of that Insurance commercial - the one where an Obviously Blonde girl says "they can't put anything that's not true on the Internet" & meets up with her new "terribly NOT French model" date... I think of the Internet as FOX News with a wider audience - NEVER believe until Concretely proven (and NOT by FOX News "standards"!!!!!!)

Kit B (276)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 8:04 pm

So true Yvonne, and many sites are fairly reliable, but when a little extra research is done, we find a whole different story.

bob m (32)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 8:05 pm

Well shut my fat ole white racist, bigoted, ignorant, christian face.....hooooooeeeee!... the defence coucil to the moon arises.. to defend the peerless traditions of peace , love and brorherhood in the lands of bloody sand and baby brides.. for the horny horned goats of islam.... to booty....we are astonished totally at the very posibility that ANYONE would even think for a moment that this story could have legs.... or hands ,, or a believable given the kindly traditions of the Ackbart....
Whoda thunk?

Good news just pours outa these traditions daily afterall..... NOT.

Kit B (276)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 8:08 pm

Well, I have to give credit to Bob, his is correct I did not note that article.

bob m (32)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 8:09 pm

speakina fabrications ... try the forlega lamb.....for clarity.

Jay S (116)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 11:22 pm
"Sadly, in the case of stories about Muslim clerics or Islamists the same red flags don't seem to apply."

Well, that is probably because this story is all too true as Islam does condone this kind of atrocity. Mohammed himself practiced raping captive women and egged his band of murderous thugs on to doing the same thing. He gave them 'temporary marriages' to make it all seem so moral, but it is not. Sex slavery, as Mohammed practiced, is still condoned in Islam, but the raped and enslaved girls/women must not be Muslims.

Qur'an (4:24) - "And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done)" Qur'an (5:87) - "O you who believe! do not forbid (yourselves) the good things which Allah has made lawful for you and do not exceed the limits; surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits" Surprisingly the context for this verse (which is found in Bukhari (60:139) is temporary marriage, in this case trading an article of clothing for a few days of access to a woman's body. By calling this a "good thing," Muhammad really stood traditional morality on its ear.

Arab Muslim creeps are buying desperate young Syrian women refugees for temporary marriages for sex, then dumping them when they've had their jollies. "Muslim preachers in a number of Arab countries have been encouraging their followers to engage in "pleasure marriages" with Syrian girls as a way of ridding them and their families of their misery. Some of these preachers have even issued fatwas [Islamic decrees] permitting the sexual exploitation of minors." (

In Sunni Islam this form of moral prostitution is called 'Misyar', or 'Travelers Marriage' and can be had even in western countries where these perverts travel and lust for easy, quick sex.

In Shia Islam these sex for hire 'marriages' are called Nikah Mut'ah and a Shia Muslim man can have unlimited 'temporary wives'. They are often used for hiring little girls from poor fathers (mothers, of course, have no say) for weekend rapes and debauchery.

The great moral leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, praised sex with little girls and gave instructions on how to enjoy it: ""A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, he should not penetrate; sodomising the child is OK. If the man penetrates and damages the child then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl, however, does not count as one of his four permanent wives. The man will not be eligible to marry the girl's sister."
-- Ayatollah Khomeini's book, Tahrirolvasyleh, vol. 4, Darol Elm, Gom, Iran, 1990

There is a lot more on this for those who want to know the truth.

Carola May (20)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 11:37 pm
Here's another story about this common Islamic practice:

Arab Muslim men are buying Indian girls for sex, then dumping them with little hope of any future for these 'used' girls but to become prostitutes, since no one else wants them after they've been used and abused:

I so wish you who choose to be blind on the perversions and evils of Islam and its sex-obsessed, mass murdering bandit 'prophet' would finally read the Qur'an and the Sunnah (hadith and sirah) as I and other more informed people have. You make constant fools of yourselves with your willful ignorance.

To try to pretend that these awful abuses in Islam aren't happening is to abuse the victims all over again. What is it with you so-called 'liberals' and 'feminists' who bend over backward to defend this horrible ideology, yet you show zero compassion for its victims. Whose side are you on? You defend the rapists and therefore you demean and deny the suffering of the raped. Sickening hypocrisy.

When you all, especially Kit and Ros and the gang, make some effort to really find out what this sick cult teaches and practices then you have no credibility. You only perpetuate the hate, violence, homophobia, murders, rapes, oppression of women and perversion that lurks barely under the surface of this 'religion' with your ignorance and defending the indefensible.

Read the Qur'an and hadith (at least Bukhari). See for yourselves what obscenities they teach and condone. Then if you have any real decency you will join those of us who care about the victims and are fighting for their rights. There's a reason the Muslim-ruled countries have rejected the UN's Universal Declaration on Human Rights and have their own, Cairo Declaration, which goes by Sharia law which allows these perverse atrocities.

Jennifer Ward (40)
Friday January 4, 2013, 12:13 am
According to the poster-0ne beat up story and thousands of true accounts of Sharia sanctioned rapes and pedophilia are declared invalid.

Gillian M (218)
Friday January 4, 2013, 2:41 am
Bob, don't worry, Kit never turns up on any anti-Muslim/anti-Palestinian stories. The Egyptians are committing terrible abuses towards Christians and Muslim women but her silence on the subject is loud and long. Perish the thought that genocide would disturb her when the Sudanese Muslims were trying to kill all of the Christians before South Sudan came into existence. Israel was the first & only country to help there and the first & only country to help New York. Then we come to the MUSLIMS attacking CHRISTIANS in N Mali....I could continue but I'm sure you get the point.

Whether or not this fatwa was issued, Muslims regard non-Muslims as available for rape and sex whenever they feel like it. Norway and Sweden's police have announced that virtually all rapes are committed by Muslims. Sydney, Australia, has a rape crime wave as does France especially with young girls. In the UK there have been convictions for sexual grooming and statutory rape. I can continue world wide including Muslim controlled countries where women are sexually abused. An example from which Kit is conspicuously missing, as usual, How Arabs Buy 'Wives' and Dump Them in a Few Weeks
The Rape and Murder of Pakistan's Christian Children

There have been many such article yet Kit chooses to defend a religion which preaches and pracitces hatred, rape, paedophilia, child abuse and murder of non-Muslims as well as the wrong kind of Muslim such as LGBT. A religion which kills and attacks converts often with acid,

When Dr Jasser called for moderate Muslims to support him in a rally at DC against Islamic hatred & violence, nobody came, he stood on the Capitol steps by himself. I would also add that he lives under a death sentence by calling for Islam's reform. Also remember that he was to join Obama's administration as an advisor but Obama's Wahabi advisors did not want the voice of reason to be heard so Dr Jasser was dropped like a hot potato. If you want to support a Muslim, Dr Jasser is the one. I admire him for his willingness in standing up for what he believes as did Martin Luthor King. King had the support of the people, Dr Jasser does what is right and is ignored.


Gillian M (218)
Friday January 4, 2013, 2:49 am
Rob/Jay did you see the article where Iran is dropping the age of marriage for girls from 9 years to 8 years? Or the one where Egypt is dropping the marriage age of girls fro 18 years to 9 years? Where they encourage slave marriages, one of the first TV programmes of the new government?

I remember Kit saying how wonderful it was for Egypt to depose Mubarak but it seems to me that Morsi is trying to outdo the Saudi royalty in his abuses and what about his removal of all of the democracy that Mubarak allowed?


Cousin It Addams (8)
Friday January 4, 2013, 8:21 am
point 1: unless you are fluent in arabic (i am), i don't believe you, Kit, that the story is false. listen to 'em in arabic, then what they say to the kaffir in english is the opposite. the term "lying bastards" will come to mind if you see enough of this for yourself. as you know, any thief, liar, or murderer says "i didn't do it" and how nice that you must just believe any denial anyone gives. lets get rid of the judicial system and just take their word for it. great idea

point 2: so the fatwa called for temporary marriage not gang rape? no problem then, since as we all know from life in the west that prostitution doesn't exploit women at all. i suppose being infantilized, by law worth half a man, an adulteress if you're raped, "ready" for marriage as young as 9, and having your genitals hacked off with a razor blade, not allowed to vote or drive, and e-tracked so you can't travel without a man's permission doesn't exploit them either?

women who defend mohammedanism, your grand-daughters, in their FGMed and burka-wearing states, will spit on your graves for selling their real and hard-won freedoms out to appear "tolerant".

you're sure as hell ready to tolerate a lot of stuff done to other women that i bet you'd don't want perpetrated on you though. and since the women victimized are browner than you and muslim, i say YOU are racist. it's obviously only a war on women if the women are white or live in the west.

Emily Barkovic (0)
Friday January 4, 2013, 8:22 am
there is a lot more to the truth in this

Kit B (276)
Friday January 4, 2013, 9:29 am

I did not write this article nor the retraction for those who bothered to read the article. I despise the use of terror tactics by any group for any reason. I believe that essence of humanity is within all of us and know that a voice of hate will not bring people together.

Continue to call me names, you do not hurt me nor my beliefs.

Are there terror tactics used by the Muslims against women? Yes, we all too aware of the lack of full human rights for women across the world including some "free and democratic" countries.

Sorry Gillian and the rest of "the gang of thugs" I make a choice to not note those stories. I do however, check into each story to look for the actual facts behind the sensationalism.

I wonder why the stories posted are not more far reaching to address the horrors for women, children and often for men across the world. When the focus of intolerant attitudes rests only with one area or people, then I am left to suspect the reasons for that choice of story and on many occasions, such as this one; they are stories and not factual.

Freya H (357)
Friday January 4, 2013, 10:04 am
This is why critical thinking and checking your sources is so important!

Today, it is easy to demonize Muslims thanks to a lot of cold, hard, ugly facts - September 11, 2001 and the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, for example. When you base your hateful propaganda on truth, that makes it all the more dangerous and believable.

Think about how Christians demonized Jews for centuries. The evil blood libel, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and other vile propaganda laid down the foundation for the Holocaust. How difficult, do you think, would it be for some silvery-tongued slime to stir up violent hatred against Muslims? Not very, I fear. And, of course, the victims will probably not be the ones who besmirch Islam.

Gillian M (218)
Friday January 4, 2013, 1:05 pm
Kit, so you do not think it is important to bring these atrocities to peoples' attention? That is even worse, it shows a complete lack of caring. You bring to mind an expression, "All mouth & trousers" in other words you talk a reasonable talk and do nothing. I have known for some time that you do not really care but now you have, at least, admitted it now.

Whatever you may or may not think about me or the "gang of thugs" we do care about this suffering and WE DO ACT.

Kit B (276)
Friday January 4, 2013, 1:16 pm

No, it is true that I do not ACT by following sensational stories. I do however, work with and make contributions to the many groups in the Middle East and Africa that fight the daily fight for women and children. These groups fight for legal remedies and offer shelter to those who need the help. It may be that the updates I receive from these groups in the many countries I am able to assist, offer a much better truth. Though I grant that is nothing more than my opinion. I do want I can in to help the helpless be they human or animal.

That may not suit your idea of caring but it is all that I can do from here in the United States.

Angelika R (143)
Friday January 4, 2013, 3:16 pm
To begin with, I am sorry to see what this thread has turned into (again) and I am hesitating to even comment at all
I do not know enough about the teachings of Islam to make valuable comments on this issue, although I admit that I find it hard to believe that such "permits" are actually included in the holy Qran.
However, what I do know is that there are hate preachers in all religions. Therefor I tend to value such statements much like those of American evangelicals and even politicians. And I don't think anyone would like it if statements of hateful homophobia or "God given" rape pregnancy would be seriously regarded as Christian teachings by the muslim world.

Tommy S (11)
Saturday January 5, 2013, 12:36 am
@ Angelica Roll
quote...I do not know enough about the teachings of Islam to make valuable comments on this issue, although I admit that I find it hard to believe that such "permits" are actually included in the holy Qran...Unquote
Like Kit B -- you have already formed an opinion based on ignorance
and when Kit B states
quote... I do want I can in to help the helpless be they human or animal. ...Unquote. One can recognise it immediately as a lie,because when one denies the tenets of islam and the evil that was muhammed (the best example for mankind to emulate) It also becomes obvious that ones thought processes are off kilter - in other words one has become a delusionist and delusionists are filled with the delusion of righteousness, their own self importance and their stubborn complete refusal to admit that evil they have refused to face actually exists.
One can only feel sorrow for their naivety and pray for their enlightenment -- they are lost souls doing satan's bidding.

During 2012 there were 2549 terrorist attacks conducted by the islamic faithful following muhammeds example, resulting in the deaths of 11,267 and the maiming of many many more.


Angelika R (143)
Saturday January 5, 2013, 7:24 am
@ Tommy S. - Your description above fits exactly such lost souls like Mr Todd Akin !

bob m (32)
Saturday January 5, 2013, 8:18 am

At the very least Ros G... a healthy touch of common sense and courage ..(RE;..TOMMY S'....motivation).

bob m (32)
Saturday January 5, 2013, 8:28 am

Have ya tried the "doggy tie"..MOONlight delight.?.... just slaughter after joy To purify.. and ... "Chow" down folks... or drop the body at the dump.. certified immam approved at Al ackbarts ..

Alexander Werner (53)
Sunday January 6, 2013, 8:39 am
Notice how many posters with Christian and Jewish names serve as Islamist apologists for atrocities of Islamists, and Koran, and don't mind referring to it as to "Holy Quran".

Since when Koran became holy for Christians and Jews? Or, using fake names gives to the apologists more credibility?

Alexander Werner (53)
Sunday January 6, 2013, 11:37 pm
Ros, thank you for a candid response! I respect your views and pretty much agree with them. When we talk about Islamophobia, we need to be very specific what is there to be OK with, and what is there to be a matter of concerns.

The matter of private services is perfectly fine, as long as it is not a call to racist hatred and inciting to violence against people of different credos. This is the area of Moderate Muslims, who are leaving among us as good neighbors.

Then we have indoctrinated people. They don't come from poor houses - some are well educated and rich. They were never exposed to discrimination, because Canada has good laws to protect everyone. And yet for no apparent reason a group of people severely indoctrinated by foreign Islamists, plot to behead our Prime Minister Harper.

Going on such a large scale, they obviously got caught, punished and rehabilitated. But making attacks on a smaller scale, against elderly Jews or Christians, would go for much longer and be much more devastating.

Islamists do conduct illegal financial activities in US and Canada, ripping off businesses in various schemes. They cost us money. They need money to kill our soldiers in Iraq and Afganistan. We need to remember that too.

These is the Truth, and please let me know of any Propaganda.

Alexander Werner (53)
Monday January 7, 2013, 6:49 am

We are taking off the shoes at the airport not because of Jews and Christians. I don't know your feelings and if you fly often, but I feel like a victim of a dumb political correctness. TSA has to focus on those who is the most likely to blow up a plane, not on anybpody.

The cost of war is huge, and our soldiers die, and this is very bad for us. However, if you don't fight bad guys there, they come here. US was not warring in Afganistant until 9/11. The question who has to die, our soldiers or our civilians, is a tough one.

I would suggest stopping all "refugee" immigration, but would let loyal Afgani soldiers in, after many years of service. Those who would qualify for "True" refugees are either killed or in jail in their respective countries. The ones which are landing on shores illegally are fake refugees for too often, and it is again our political correctness stupidity to pay for all of them.


Cousin It Addams (8)
Friday January 11, 2013, 2:18 pm
i'm not for any religion, but even i have to admit that it is CENTURIES since a jew or xtian stoned a woman to death. pretty sure most religions never did that at all. mohammedanism still does that today. as in now, this decade, this year. same for beheadings (probably mohammedans literally did that today, as in jan 11 2013, but if not today, for sure this week). i don't see other religions strapping on a bomb vest and blowing up not only non-believers but people in the wrong sect. yeah, a lot of xtian or jewish can be called misogynistic, but mohammed called women "domestic animals" and they're treated like it by his followers so you know what, i concede all religions aren't all equally bad. mohammedanism is doing stuff right now that civilized nations gave up on centuries ago. to try to put some moral equivalency to this is a fools errand.
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