In my most recent link farm post, I posted a link to a story about Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani calling a fatwah against homosexuals. The blogger Zeyad apparently translated this from an page in Arabic on Sistani’s website:
Q: What is the judgement on sodomy and lesbianism?
A: “Forbidden. Those involved in the act should be punished. In fact, sodomites should be killed in the worst manner possible.”
Here’s the evidence. Sistani has a long history of taking fatwas extremely seriously and always issuing them in the service of non-violence. The other part of the fatwa incited Shi’ites to violence against Sunnis. While homophobia may be old news, this not and all the major news organs would have reported that. It directly contradicted Sistani’s earlier fatwas, ordering Shia to stand down from acts of retaliation. After the bombing of the Al Askari mosque this year he ordered Shia not to protest violently.
The original tip reported he was the leader of the BADR Corps and SCIRI. This is manifestly not true. The tips have come from one source, the guy cited in the 365 gay article. I’ve never heard of him before. Amongst other things, the guy got just about everything wrong and appears to have no real knowledge of conditions in Iraq. Chat room murders? People don’t go out at night for fear of bombings and kidnappings. Furthermore, homoerotic friendships are common in Iraq to the point where you see men walking hand in hand down the street. Homosexuality is commonly but not openly practiced.
Finally, it appears that Sistani’s website has been hacked. It’s not like he has 24/7 internet access in An Najaf.
I spent a year studying the guy’s actions in Iraq. This fatwa contradicts a long-established pattern of behavior and public statements, not to mention earlier fatwas issued when the stakes were far lower. Sistani’s primary concern has always been the safety of the people of Iraq. He’s what’s known as a Quietist: he believes that religion should be an influence on people’s lives, and their lives will then influence their politics.
I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with his website, but this is the guy’s character: he’s the last person to incite violence when it’s this dangerous, so something’s going on. I was going to print out his website and have my NCO read it. That’s the only thing I’m not certain of.
You should know this, too: Sistani issued a fatwa early in the war that instructed Iraqis not to resist the invasion. That’s how concerned he is with loss of life. My biggest fear is Zarqawi’s oft-expressed urge for a religious war. Iraqis don’t fear each other nearly as much as they do the Iranians, and assassination of Sistani is the one thing that would guarantee a civil war. That country is like an abyss covered by tightropes supported by razor blades.
I don’t know what the truth is; hopefully things will be clarified soon. But I wanted “Alas” readers to be aware that the story has been called into doubt.