There are stories that just make you stop and throw up a little in your mouth, this is one of those stories. A Muslim cleric, Salafi Sheikh Yasir al-Ajlawni, told Muslim rebels who are fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad, that it’s fine and dandy to rape any women they find in Syria, so long as they’re not Sunni. The Imam declares that this is a legitimate fatwa saying it’s entirely acceptable to “capture and have sex with” Alawites and other non-Sunni, non-Muslim women. In his video, posted on YouTube, he uses the word “melk al-yamin,” which appears in the Bible and refers to non-Muslim female sex slaves.
Back in February, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Erika Feller warned that the war in Syria was “increasingly marked by rape and sexual violence employed as a weapon of war to intimidate parties to the conflict destroying identity, dignity and the social fabrics of families and communities.” Here’s a map that details reported sexual assaults within Syria, along with details of the reports. It was put together by The Women Under Siege Project, headed up by Lauren Wolfe, who put the findings of her year-long study in The Atlantic. She says, “rape has been reportedly used widely as a tool of control, intimidation, and humiliation throughout the conflict. And its effects, while not always fatal, are creating a nation of traumatized survivors — everyone from the direct victims of the attacks to their children, who may have witnessed or been otherwise affected by what has been perpetrated on their relatives.”
Of course, al-Ajlawni isn’t the only one to play this card, another Imam, Muhammad al-Arifi, said essentially the same thing a number of months ago, giving permission to Muslim fighters in Syria to have “intercourse marriage”, but only so long as they give all of the rest of their team a turn with their “wife”.
It’s not like rape is the only problem in this 2-year old war, it is estimated that more than 70,000 people have lost their lives in the fighting and more than a million Syrians have fled their homes into other neighboring nations to avoid the violence. Where the war did not start along wholly religious lines, it has largely become a fight between Sunni Muslims and smaller religious groups. According to the New York Times, “nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” It’s religious zealot against religious zealot, killing and raping each other.
And they say religion is harmless.