Some foreign news websites have fallen for a false story about a fatwa attributed to Saudi cleric Mohammed al-Arifi calling for the gang rape of Syrian women by fighters there. I tweeted yesterday that the story is false and was planning to write about it here but Ali Abunimah at the Electronic Intifada has already done a good job reporting this so please go read his post. Like other similar stories over the past few months, this one has gone viral despite the fact that it was clearly fake. Abunimah explains:
What these repeated episodes show is that it is easy for many people to believe negative and shocking information about unpopular and disreputable figures. When the claims are lurid – especially involving sex and violence – they spread more rapidly. And when they fit multiple agendas – as in this case – there’s apparently no limit to how far they can go.