« Hungary passes law criminalizing homelessness, says rights watchdog | Main | How you can help train a health care worker in the developing world »

10/01/2013

"Sex Jihad" or Sexy Hoax

NYC-Niqab
A controversial Diesel jeans ad denounced as Islamaphobic by some, as seen in lower Manhattan Sept. 29, 2013. MICHELLE SHEPHARD/ TORONTO STAR

 

It was a sexy sex scandal and like anything shocking these days, it instantly went viral.

Tunisia's Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou claimed women are flocking to Syria to wage "sex jihad." Ben Jeddou made the audacious statement to Tunisia's members of the National Constituent Assembly on September 19, alleging that these women would leave home to have "sexual relations with 20, 30, 100 militants" fighting the regime loyal to President Bashar Assad in Syria. Many would return pregnant.

Various media outlets reported that this idea of "sex jihad" is backed by hardline Salafist clerics. Misogynist edicts are not uncommon in some circles (look no further than Saudi Arabia's top conservative cleric, Sheik Saleh Saad el-Leheidan, who said Friday in endorsing a ban on female drivers, that women will damage their ovaries should they drive) but the most commonly cited reference for "sex jihad" points to a fatwa reportedly issued by Saudi cleric Mohammed al-Arefe - which he denies making.

Further, there are no credible interviews with Tunisian women who were on their way to Syria or had returned pregnant.

So why would Tunisia's interior minister make such a claim, if not true? Foreign Policy Magazine's David Kenner points out that Ben Jeddou campaigns against extremist Salafi groups. "Suggesting that Tunisian Salafi women are sleeping with dozens of Syrian rebels could be another way to discredit them" Kenner writes.

Sometimes when a story is so hard to believe we think, you just can't make this stuff up. Sometimes, however, it appears you can.

Michelle Shephard is the Star's National Security correspondent and author of "Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone." She is a three-time recipient of Canada's National Newspaper Award. Follow her on Twitter @shephardm

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

The World Daily

  • The Star's foreign desk covers the best stories from the around the globe, updated throughout the day.