Right-Wing Media Stoke Islamophobia With Dubious Story About "Necrophilia Law" In Egypt

››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

The right-wing media continued their pattern of encouraging people to fear Muslims by hyping a thinly sourced column in an Egyptian newspaper about a supposed proposal to legalize necrophilia. Al-Arabiya has reported that members of the Egyptian parliament are denying that any such law was ever proposed.

Al-Arabiya Reports Claim That Law Was Being Considered

Al-Arabiya: Report Came From "Egyptian Columnist." From Al-Arabiya:

Egypt's National Council for Women (NCW) has appealed to the Islamist-dominated parliament not to approve two controversial laws on the minimum age of marriage and allowing a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours of her death according to a report in an Egyptian newspaper.

The appeal came in a message sent by Dr. Mervat al-Talawi, head of the NCW, to the Egyptian People's Assembly Speaker, Dr. Saad al-Katatni, addressing the woes of Egyptian women, especially after the popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

She was referring to two laws: one that would legalize the marriage of girls starting from the age of 14 and the other that permits a husband to have sex with his dead wife within the six hours following her death.

According to Egyptian columnist Amro Abdul Samea in al-Ahram, Talawi's message included an appeal to parliament to avoid the controversial legislations that rid women of their rights of getting education and employment, under alleged religious interpretations. [Al-Arabiya, 4/25/12]

Daily Mail Picks Up Al-Arabiya Report

Daily Mail Asserts "Egyptian Husbands Will Soon Be Legally Allowed To Have Sex With Their Dead Wives." From the Daily Mail:

Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives -- for up to six hours after their death.

The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament.

It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women's rights of getting education and employment.

Egypt's National Council for Women is campaigning against the changes, saying that 'marginalising and undermining the status of women would negatively affect the country's human development'. [Daily Mail, 4/26/12, via Gateway Pundit]

Others In The Media Questioned Story's Legitimacy

Christian Science Monitor: Chance Of Such A Law Passing "Is Zero." From the Christian Science Monitor:

Today, Egypt's state-owned Al Ahram newspaper published an opinion piece by Amr Abdul Samea, a past stalwart supporter of the deposed Hosni Mubarak, that contained a bombshell: Egypt's parliament is considering passing a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death.

It was soon mentioned in an English language version of Al-Arabiya and immediately started zipping around social-networking sites. By this afternoon it had set news sites and the rest of the Internet on fire. It has every thing: The yuck factor, "those creepy Muslims" factor, the lulz factor for those with a sick sense of humor. The non-fact-checked Daily Mail picked it up and reported it as fact. Then Andrew Sullivan, who has a highly influential blog but is frequently lax about fact-checking, gave it a boost with an uncritical take. The Huffington Post went there, too.

There's of course one problem: The chances of any such piece of legislation being considered by the Egyptian parliament for a vote is zero. And the chance of it ever passing is less than that. In fact, color me highly skeptical that anyone is even trying to advance a piece of legislation like this through Egypt's parliament. I'm willing to be proven wrong. It's possible that there's one or two lawmakers completely out of step with the rest of parliament. Maybe.

But extreme, not to mention inflammatory claims, need at minimum some evidence (and I've read my share of utter nonsense in Al Ahram over the years). The evidence right now? Zero. [Christian Science Monitor, 4/26/12]

Foreign Policy Blogger Calls Story "Too Good To Check." From a Foreign Policy blog post by David Kenner:

It has not been a banner week for media coverage of the Arab world. Blame it on journalists unfamiliar with their subject matter, the demands of an ever-quicker news cycle, or simply salacious stories that were "too good to check" -- a number of stories that have made it into major media outlets recently are simply not true, or omit essential details of the tale.

First, and most infamously, we have the "farewell sex" episode. The story, which was reported in al-Arabiya and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Huffington Post, goes like this: Islamists in the Egyptian parliament were contemplating a bill that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives for six hours after death. The only problem? As the Christian Science Monitor's Dan Murphy writes, the story is "utter hooey." The rumor was initially advanced in an opinion piece by a partisan of deposed President Hosni Mubarak's regime, and caught fire in the international media from there - without anyone doing a basic fact-check. [Passport blog, Foreign Policy, 4/27/12]

Nevertheless, Right-Wing Media Run With Story

Limbaugh Reads Daily Mail Account, Adds: "Who Provides The Contraceptives When An Egyptian Guy Has Sex With His Dead Wife?" From Rush Limbaugh's radio show:

LIMBAUGH: The UK Daily Mail is reporting that the Muslim Brotherhood has passed a law granting husbands permission to have sex with their wives up to six hours after the wife has died. It's exactly right. "Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives -- for up to six hours after their death. The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament," under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood. I read this, and I said, "The NAGs are coming after me. The NOW gang is coming after me, and, meanwhile, in Egypt husbands will be able to have sex with their wives up to six hours after the wife has died." (interruption) What do you mean a widespread problem? No, no, no. Look, I'm not an expert here on Sharia law. I'm not an expert in this. I don't know if this is new or if it's been practiced and they just finally had to codify it because it's been going on for so long.

The Daily Mail, the UK Daily Mail, which reports the story, is holding out the possibility that this could be bogus. That's what I mean seeded by pro-Mubarak forces to embarrass the Brotherhood, which, of course, has a very, very tight relationship with Obama. The Brotherhood was here. The Brotherhood had White House meetings. I mean, before they were elected heads of state. The Brotherhood is more welcome in the White House than Boehner is, for example. By the way, lest you think that this is sexist, wives also have permission to have sex with their dead husbands in Egypt for six hours after he has died, but nobody has figured out yet how to successfully perform sex on a male corpse. I'm told that engineers are working on it. Dawn's shaking her head. "This can't be true. It can't."

I know, that's the initial knee-jerk reaction to this. But it hit, I first heard it yesterday afternoon when I got home and immediately started working on today's program. The new law, which allows all this post-death sex, "will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women's rights of getting education and employment." The law will now make it possible for women to be prohibited from getting an education or a job. Meanwhile, the NAGs are coming after me. "Egypt's National Council for Women is campaigning against the changes, saying that 'marginalising and undermining the status of women would negatively affect the country's human development.'"

[...]

LIMBAUGH: Folks, I will never forget this. We had this video, in fact, on the Rush Limbaugh television show back in the nineties. Back when Bill Clinton was president, they discovered a mummy. I think it was a Peruvian mummy, and they named the mummy Juanita. It was an Incan mummy, newly discovered on the display at the National Geographic Museum. And when they first discovered this, somehow Clinton made reference to it. I will never forget, he actually said this, folks. And this ties into the necrophilia story, Muslim Brotherhood. Clinton said, (imitating Clinton) "You know, if I were a single man, I might ask that mummy out. That's a good-looking mummy." Dawn, you weren't with us then, but don't doubt me. This actually happened. And nobody was surprised that Clinton would look at a hundred-year-old mummy and see a sex object. So I'm wondering if Clinton's been to Egypt.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: I shoulda suspected this. I didn't. I should have. I wasn't thinking. All of the reaction, e-mails I'm getting to the story out of Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood now permitting sex with your dead wife for six hours after her death, one question I had of my own was, "Who provides the contraceptives when an Egyptian guy has sex with his dead wife?" I got an e-mail from a guy who said, "How did the Egyptian men know that their wife is dead when they're having sex with them?" I shoulda known that I was gonna get this kind of stuff. And now all the wizards of smart are saying, "Hey, Rush, ever heard of rigor mortis? I mean, that could be a way for the wife to continue the coital relationship post-death." I don't know enough about rigor mortis and how long it lasts and what all it affects. But it sounds good to me. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/27/12]

Daily Caller Picks Up Daily Mail Account. From the Daily Caller:

Mum's the word.

The Islamist majority in Egypt's parliament introduced a bill this week that would legally allow husbands to have sex with their deceased wives up to six hours after their death, the Daily Mail reports.

Consideration of the issue began when Moroccan cleric Zamzami Abdul Bari said marriage remains valid after death, pointing out that women have the right to indulge in sexual pleasures after the death of a husband.

Bari is known for starting controversy. Two years ago he said it was permissible for women to drink alcohol while pregnant. [Daily Caller, 4/26/12]

Hoft Takes False Account Even Further, Claiming "Egyptian Lawmakers Approve Sex With Dead Wives." Under the headline "Yippie. Egyptian Lawmakers Approve Sex With Dead Wives Up to 6 Hours After Death," Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft wrote:

It's part of the grieving process.

Islamist Spring--

Egyptian husbands will now be allowed to have sex with their dead wives up to 6 hours after their death.

Gross.

The Daily Mail reported, via Free Republic: [Gateway Pundit, 4/26/12]

Geller Picks Up Daily Mail Account, Calls It "Another Unprecedented Obama Failure." Pamela Geller wrote at her Atlas Shrugs blog:

I told you so, but even I couldn't predict this.

More of the colossal fallout from Obama's "cosmic wager" on Islamic groups taking over Egypt. This is the left's idea of "freedom." How they loved this revolution. Media mea culpa? Never. Don't expect the media to clue America in on another unprecedented Obama failure. [Atlas Shrugs, 4/26/12]

CNN Contributor Dana Loesch Reads From Daily Mail Article. From Loesch's radio show:

LOESCH: Well, listen, here's how crazy it is. "Egyptian husbands will soon be allowed to legally have sex with their dead wives -- for up to six hours after their death. The controversial" -- this is the Daily Mail -- "The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament. It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14, the ridding of women's rights of getting rid of women getting education and employment." So glad that you all went out there and protested, right? Yay. [KFTK, The Dana Show, 4/26/12]

Hannity Reads From Daily Mail Article. From Sean Hannity's radio show:

HANNITY: Anyway, so the new Egyptian parliament from this point forward, Egyptian husbands -- now, remember I predicted too that Shariah law would become the law of the land. Why? Because I looked at public opinion polls. I said this in the middle of the Arab Spring. I was called at the time Muslim Brotherhood-obsessed. Maybe, based on this news today, it's a healthy obsession because now the Egyptian parliament says that Egyptian husbands will now legally be able to have sex with their dead wives. "Hannity, you made this up." Nope. It is all part of the new Islamists that have taken power to end rights, frankly, for women almost entirely, which is in keeping with their interpretation of Shariah. And our president -- we've given $1.5 billion to Egypt, federal tax dollars.

I'll read it directly from the UK Daily Mail. "Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives -- for up to six hours after their death. The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament." What happened to the democracy? "It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women's rights of getting an education and employment." Sounds like the Taliban. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 4/26/12]

Huckabee: Women's Groups "Have Been Silent As A Corpse On This Stuff." From Mike Huckabee's radio show:

HUCKABEE: Now, the next proposal is one that is so outrageous, so goes against everything I think most of us in a civilization would think to be acceptable, even tolerable, that I want to warn you before I tell you what it is this is not for the faint of heart. And I'm not doing this for shock value, this is actually being proposed as a package of laws in the reconstituted Egypt. The most controversial part of is a proposal called the "farewell intercourse law." And as Dave Barry says, you can't make this stuff up. Now, this is crazy. It would allow men to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after their deaths. Did you hear? They would be able to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after their wives have died. Defenders say that it's based on a Muslim religious principle that marriage remains valid even after death. They also claim that women would be able to have sex with their dead husbands as well. Because you know a lot of women would love to do that, right?

The proposals have clearly sparked outrage among non-Islamist Egyptians and protests by Egypt's National Council for Women. But what I don't understand is, so far women's rights groups like the National Organization for Women have been as silent as a corpse on this stuff. I simply do not understand it. Where are the women who we're used to saying this is wrong? I mean, I can remember -- and nobody's roaring. Hillary Clinton has gone all over the world talking about women's rights. Is she going to say something? And if not, why not? You know, the Democrats have been talking about a war on women -- there is a war on women. It's going on in Egypt. [Cumulus Media, The Mike Huckabee Show, 4/27/12]

Daily Mail Alters Its Story After Questions Are Raised

Poynter: Daily Mail Story "Now Includes A Bit Of Hedging." From the Poynter Institute blog Regret the Error:

The Daily Mail's story has also been updated, though it still carries a declarative headline: "Outrage as Egypt plans 'farewell intercourse law' so husbands can have sex with DEAD wives up to six hours after their death."

The Mail piece now includes a bit of hedging in the lead: "Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after their death, local media is claiming."

But that wasn't there when it was published yesterday morning.

"Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives -- for up to six hours after their death," was how it read.

The story also now includes these details at the bottom of the piece:

Although reported in local media, there are some suggestions from within Egypt that the plans do not exist and were merely seeded by journalists loyal to ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

MailOnline has contacted the Egyptian Embassy and Consulate in London for comment on the claimed proposals, and is yet to receive a reply.

[Regret the Error blog, Poynter Institute, 4/27/12]

Al-Arabiya Follows Up, Finds No Evidence Any Such Law Was Proposed In Parliament

Al-Arabiya: "Members Of The Egyptian Parliament ... Denied Existence Of Any Such Draft." From Al-Arabiya:

Members of the Egyptian parliament responded to the uproar caused by Egyptian and Arab media reports about a new law that would allow a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours after her death and denied existence of any such draft.

"This is indecent and nonsense. The whole issue is unacceptable. It is even unacceptable to give any statement to media about this issue," Islamist MP Mamdouh Ismail told Al Arabiya.

The news about passing the so-called 'Farewell Intercourse' law by the country's Islamist-dominated parliament was first reported by Egyptian state-run al-Ahram newspaper and Egyptian ON TV on Tuesday. It was picked up and analyzed by Al Arabiya English a day later, following which international media picked up the story.

The People's Assembly Secretary General, Samy Mahran, denied to Al Arabiya the existence of such draft law. "I have never heard of anything in this regard," he said.

Egyptian MP Hisham Ahmed Hanafi told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday that "such reports are completely false and aim mainly to deform the image of the Egyptian parliament."

Egyptian Islamist MP Ashraf Agour of the Construction and Development Party also denied the reports and said that "the issue has never been discussed in the parliament," according to Asharq al-Awsat.

[...]

Egypt's al-Ahram had published an opinion piece by columnist Amro Abdul Samea on Tuesday reporting that the National Council for Women (NCW) had appealed to the parliament not to approve the controversial laws of minimum age of marriage and 'Farewell Intercourse'.

The appeal came in a message sent by NCW chief, Mervat al-Talawi, to the Egyptian People's Assembly Speaker, Dr. Saad al-Katatni, addressing the woes of Egyptian women.

The message was referring to the two specific laws of legalizing the marriage of girls starting from the age of 14 and permitting a husband to have sex with his dead wife within the six hours following her death.

Despite attempts to contact Abdul Samea, Al Arabiya was not able to get through to him to discuss the contents of the message.

[...]

Analysts have said the news was a hoax planted by supporters of Hosni Mubarak to defame Egyptian Islamists.

Egyptian prominent journalist and TV anchor Jaber al-Qarmouty on Tuesday referred to al-Ahram's article in his daily show on Egyptian ON TV and criticized the whole notion of "permitting a husband to have sex with his wife after her death under a so-called 'Farewell Intercourse' draft law."

Qarmouty seemed shocked and posed several questions on the issue: "This is very serious. Could the panel that will draft the Egyptian constitution possibly discuss such issues? Did Abdul Samea see by his own eyes the text of the message sent by Talawi to Katatni? This is unbelievable. It is a catastrophe to give the husband such a right! Has the Islamic trend reached that far? Is there really a draft law in this regard? Are there people thinking in this manner?" [Al-Arabiya, 4/30/12]

Right-Wing Media Regularly Promotes Islamophobic Attacks

Anti-Muslim Activists Attack TLC's All-American Muslim As "A Little Taqiyya On The Prairie." Anti-Muslim activists attacked the TLC reality show All-American Muslim as "propaganda," "a video version of jihad," and "A Little Taqiyya on the Prairie." Television critics, meanwhile, have praised the show for portraying the diversity of the American Muslim community. [Media Matters, 11/29/11]

Right-Wing Media Respond To Park51 Grant Application With Islamophobia. The right-wing media responded to reports that the proposed Park51 Islamic center in New York City was applying for a federal grant with anti-Islamic smears and baseless accusations. [Media Matters, 11/23/10]

Dick Morris Uses Fox To Push His Anti-Muslim Petition. Fox News contributor Dick Morris repeatedly used his Fox appearances to promote a petition on his website opposing the Park51 Islamic community center. Morris has a history of inflammatory attacks on Park51, including the outrageous claim that the community center is "designed to celebrate the attacks that killed 3,000 Americans." [Media Matters, 9/1/11]

Fox News Mainstreamed Pam Geller's Islamophobic Hate Speech. In the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Oslo, Norway, the manifesto of accused killer Anders Behring Breivik is being examined, and commenters are noting that he frequently cited fringe, so-called "antijihad" writers including Atlas Shrugs blogger Pamela Geller. Geller has long been a reliable source for Fox when the network needs or wants to highlight far-right, fringe, and extremist opinions -- and Geller has only benefited from the exposure. [Media Matters, 7/25/11]

Report On Islamophobia Highlights Role Played By Right-Wing Media. A revealing report by the Center for American Progress describes the network of anti-Muslim "experts" who relentlessly promote Islamophobia in America, as well as the sources of their funding. Many of these "experts" are also familiar figures in the right-wing media. [Media Matters, 8/26/11]

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.