Der Spiegel reports: Syrian President Assad’s regime is waging a PR campaign to spread stories that discredit its rivals and distract from its own crimes. Aided by gullible networks and foreign media, it has included tales of rebels engaging in “sex jihad” and massacring Christians.
Sex sells. And al-Qaida is eager to grab attention. But the combination of the two — sex jihad — is simply irresistible. Scores of young women are reportedly offering themselves to jihadists, according to one of the latest horror news stories coming out of Syria. A sheik from Saudi Arabia has allegedly issued a fatwa that allows teenage girls to provide relief to sexually frustrated fighters.
In late September, 16-year-old Rawan Qadah appeared on Syrian TV and gave a detailed account of how she had to sexually satisfy a radical insurgent. After the Tunisian interior minister stated that young women from his country were traveling to Syria for sex jihad — and having sex with 20, 30 and even up to 100 rebels — the story started to make headlines in Germany, as well. In Germany, the websites of the mass circulation Bild newspaper and Focus magazine have titillated readers with articles about this supposed “bizarre practice.”
In the wake of the poison gas massacre on Aug. 21, the regime in Damascus has launched a major PR offensive. Beyond the official line of propaganda, though, there is a second campaign: a secret and elaborately staged effort to sow doubt and confusion — and divert attention away from the Syrian government’s own crimes. Like many of these bogus news stories, the sex jihad tales aim to convince supporters at home and critics abroad of the rebels’ monstrous depravity.
No other leader in the region — not Saddam Hussein in Iraq, nor Moammar Gadhafi in Libya — has relied as heavily on propaganda as Assad. His PR teams and state media are churning out a steady stream of partially or completely fabricated new stories about acts of terror against Christians, al-Qaeda’s rise to power and the imminent destabilization of the entire region. These stories are circulated by Russian and Iranian broadcasters, as well as Christian networks, and are eventually picked up by Western media. [Continue reading…]