Muhammad al-Arifi, a Wahhabi religious cleric, is being widely quoted on web sites like Salon as issuing a fatwa that allowed jihadists in Syria fighting the government to enter into “intercourse marriage” that has been taken as authorizing the rape of Syrian women. Al-Arifi is quoted as expressing concern that Saudis fighting with the opposition have not been with a woman in two years and must be allowed to take care of their “sexual problems.” [One supporter has insisted the fatwa was not issued].
He is further quoted as restricting the fatwa to Syrian females at least 14 years old, widowed or divorced. Al-Arifi is quoted as saying that such sexual assaults “boost the determination of the mujahideen in Syria and is considered a duty to enter paradise for those females who enter such marriages.”
He has been repeatedly quoted for extreme views such as instructing his followers on the proper way to beat their wives and the marriage of underaged girls.
Various groups have come forward to denounce the reported fatwa.