A number of Tunisian girls who had travelled to Syria for “sexual jihad” have returned home pregnant, the government says

Newspapers love a juicy story line. What could be more apt for tabloid sensationalism than one that combines multiple sex partners and jihad fighters? The Telegraph (no one seems to have informed the management that telegraphs are a bit on the ancient side these days) has come up with the following headline ‘Sex Jihad raging in Syria, claims minister” for its September 20th edition. Here are the lead paragraphs…

Tunisian women have travelled to Syria to wage “sex jihad” by comforting Islamist fighters battling the regime there, Interior Minister Lotfi ben Jeddou has told MPs.

“They have sexual relations with 20, 30, 100” militants, the minister told members of the National Constituent Assembly on Thursday.

“After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of ‘jihad al-nikah’ – (sexual holy war, in Arabic) – they come home pregnant,” Ben Jeddou told the MPs.

He did not elaborate on how many Tunisian women had returned to the country pregnant with the children of jihadist fighters.

Jihad al-nikah, permitting extramarital sexual relations with multiple partners, is considered by some hardline Sunni Muslim Salafists as a legitimate form of holy war.

The minister also did not say how many Tunisian women were thought to have gone to Syria for such a purpose, although media reports have said hundreds have done so.

Here is a new twist that might actually revolutionize the way jihad is being waged by the most militant crazies. Think of the potential attraction for a new recruit: “You don’t have to wait until you pull the strap on that suicide vest to get 72 virgins. Just go fight the infidel dictator in Syria and you can have as many Tunisian sisters as you please in this life. If you do get martyred, then you have a double bonus.” Of course it is the Sunni who sides up to a nikah-providing sister without a marriage contract, since the Shi’a Hezbollah fighters would have to at least get a temporary marriage, even in the battlefield.

Forget the line “What would Muhammad do,” since he was rather specific in condemning sex outside of marriage and I don’t remember that this kind of comfort was provided to the young Muslim community exiled in Madina. It seem more like “What would Don Juan do if he got religion.” But the plot thickens. The Telegraph is a bit late on this story. It broke last December, when the Saudi cleric, Shayh Mohamed al-Arifi , was reported by an Iranian news service to have issued a fatwa allowing Syrian jihad fighters to have temporary marriage (which Shi’a custom does not condemn) on the battlefield to Syrian girls as young as 14, even promising “paradise” to the girls performing such a religious duty. The shaykh denies that he issued such a fatwa, which at any rate does not seem to have been an open invitation for Tunisian women to come and service up to 100 fighters. Iranian media has even provided a Youtube video about the volunteers. For an even thicker plot, there are claims that the whole allegation was made up by the Assad regime or by Iran, an ally of Assad, to discredit the militants fighting them (as though there is a need to further discredit such extremists).

The Telegraph is not alone in pandering to the public with this unsubstantiated story. Jihad Watch picked it up, adding Jihad-Nikah to its Islamophobic voyeurism. There is certainly nothing new in noting that rape occurs all too frequently in warfare or that armies have historically had a “baggage train” with more than baggage at their disposal. But the suggestion that there could be any kind of legitimacy to either rape or prostitution or what Islam defines as illicit sex just because one is fighting for God’s cause is hardly a real news story. It is a common propaganda ploy, recently surfaced about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The political cartoonists seem to recognize this better than anyone:

The current situation in Syria is deplorable, far beyond the attention being lavished on the threat of a retaliatory strike for the use of poison gas. Women are being victimized on all sides, especially given the instability and the number of civilians who have had to flee their homes. This humanitarian crisis is the issue, not some tabloid fodder for Islamophobes to slobber over.