Did the White House play Find the Fatwa?

posted at 10:01 am on October 2, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama explained his personal-diplomacy strategy regarding Iran’s Hassan Rouhani in part as driven by signs of moderation in Tehran, and not just the election of Rouhani himself.  Specifically, Obama pointed to a fatwa issued by Supreme Leader Ali Khameini that forbid the development and use of nuclear weapons by the Islamic Republic:

Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.

Fatwa? What fatwa? Jeff Dunetz checked with the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) to find evidence of this announcement, as did Scott Johnson of Power Line.  If the top Iranian ayatollah had told his country to stop developing nuclear weapons, one would imagine that the state-run media would be proclaiming it from the rooftops to get an end to the sanctions crippling the nation.  Instead, MEMRI reported in April 2012 that the supposed fatwa never existed:

An exhaustive search of the various official websites of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei turned up no such fatwa, either on his fatwa website or on his personal website.

Khamenei’s websites post fatwas issued by him in response to questions submitted to him. Online submission of questions is an accepted and official means; all his websites offer readers options for doing so. Fatwas are issued by jurisprudents in standard question-and-answer format, and are published publicly in writing. They can also include the reasoning behind them, but not always. Today, fatwas are generally concise and limited to a yes or no answer – but always in question-and-answer form, including a summary by the jurisprudent, as follows: “I was asked a question on a certain matter. My answer is such and such.” This can be seen in the following.

On March 15, 2012, the following question on the possession and use of nuclear weapons and referring to the alleged fatwa was submitted to Supreme Leader Khamenei, via Facebook, by a group called The Light of Freedom (Cheragh-e Azadi): (for image, seeAppendix IV).[11]

“Q: Your Excellency has announced a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, and considering that nuclear weapons are a requirement for deterrence and that the aim of obtaining them is to intimidate the enemies in order to prevent them from acting aggressively, and in light of what is written in Surat Al-Anfal, Verse 60… is it also forbidden to obtain nuclear weapons, as per your ruling that their use is prohibited?

“A: Your letter has no jurisprudential aspect. When it has a jurisprudent position, then it will be possible to answer it.

“Summary: No answer was given.” 

This particular question and answer on Facebook do not appear on Khamenei’s fatwa website or on his personal website. It is notable that in his response he did not confirm, or even mention, any fatwa that he allegedly issued in the past – and that his summary notes that no response was given.

This question-and-answer format is mandatory for fatwas, so that any position on a particular religious question will be recognized as a fatwa. Even if the jurisprudent refers to an issue verbally, his words do not constitute a fatwa unless it is later issued in this format. Any expression of a position in any matter that is not issued in writing in the format of “I was asked a question on a certain matter. My answer is such and such…” isnot a fatwa and does not carry the religious significance of one; it is merely a statement.

On February 16, 2006, the Rooz website reported that Mohsen Gharavian, a disciple of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, had noted the existence of a fatwa stating that shari’a did not prohibit the use of nuclear weapons and, in fact, even calling for obtaining such weapons (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1096, “Reformist Iranian Internet Daily: A New Fatwa States That Religious Law Does Not Forbid Use of Nuclear Weapons,” February 17, 2006 http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1614.htm). The website reported that, for the first time, extremist clerics from Qom had issued what the daily called “a new fatwa,” which states that “shari’a does not forbid the use of nuclear weapons.”

MEMRI updated this last month with an exhaustive search through the fatwas published by the media arm of the Revolutionary Guards. It has plenty of declarations from Khameini, but the purported anti-nuke fatwa is conspicuously absent:

On July 30, 2013, the Iranian Tasnimnews website, which is close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), published a compilation of 493 of the “newest” fatwas issued by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. These fatwas cover a wide range of issues, from political and cultural to religious, and include such topics as the treatment of Baha’is, trade with Israeli companies, religious purity and uncleanness, the status of women, and more.

MEMRI’s examination of the compilation shows that it also includes several previously released fatwas, dating back to 2004.

It is notable that a much-discussed fatwa, which regime officials claim was issued by Khamenei and prohibits the development, possession, or use of a nuclear bomb, is not included in this compilation. The conspicuous absence of such a fatwa by Khamenei from such a compilation confirms MEMRI’s argument that it does not exist; see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 825, Renewed Iran-West Nuclear Talks – Part II: Tehran Attempts to Deceive U.S. President Obama, Sec’y of State Clinton With Nonexistent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa By Supreme Leader Khamenei, April 19, 2013.

USA Today’s Oren Dorell also checked in with MEMRI and decided to ask the White House about this fatwa that changed America’s diplomatic posture with Iran.  The answer?  Trust us:

I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution (because) Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons,” Obama told reporters. …

But MEMRI says it appears the Iranians were not telling the truth, according to its president, Yigal Carmon.

“It’s a whole campaign,” Carmon said. “They cannot deliver anything real, so they deliver a story about the fatwa but they don’t really have it.”

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for Obama’s National Security Council, said the president’s comment stands. When asked why the White House believes the fatwa exists, Hayden declined to comment.

NPR has reported on several occasions since 2003 where Khameini commented that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic, Dorell notes, and some experts say that fatwas don’t have to be written down to be valid.  That may be true, but if the list that MEMRI referenced in August is supposed to be comprehensive, it appears that Khameini and the IRGC don’t consider those comments to be fatwas themselves. Perhaps that should count in the calculations.

Condoleezza Rice says that we shouldn’t allow Rouhani to fool us on Iran’s intentions:

Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state, addressed recent efforts toward diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran, saying on “CBS This Morning,” the Iranians can’t be believed or trusted.

“They have done everything to make certain that you can’t trust them,” she said on “CBS This Morning.” “They hid their nuclear program for decades. They have given the international Atomic Energy Agency the runaround. I negotiated myself with the P5+1, the international negotiating team for them. You absolutely cannot trust them.”

We shouldn’t fool ourselves, either.


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Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for Obama’s National Security Council, said the president’s comment stands. When asked why the White House believes the fatwa exists, Hayden declined to comment.

It’s a thought out, deliberate lie from Barack Hussein Obama, designed to help an enemy of the United States of America.

rbj on October 2, 2013 at 10:07 AM

rbj on October 2, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Agreed. This precedent and its administration are not afraid to show their true intentions anymore. The believe they are above all and supreme and can deal with who they choose to. They can be trusted only as far as we trust the Iranians. Frightening. He (They) are traitors.

HomeoftheBrave on October 2, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Wait…Dog Eater is formulating foreign policy based on a…a…a fatwa?

O_O

O_O

O_O

The Smartest Man ever to hold the office, huh? Wow.

Bishop on October 2, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Obama, the closet Muslim.
Next he will find a YouTube video about the fatwa.

I am surprised Obama has not issued a fatwa against the Republicans…

albill on October 2, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Obama and Kerry know you can’t trust them, but you don’t have to trust an enemy to be an enabler of them. Those two have done everything they can to empower Iran and shackle Israel, with the possible exception of shipping Iran some of our own nukes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happening at some point.

TXUS on October 2, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Did JugEars get his info from another fake Phd?

socalcon on October 2, 2013 at 10:19 AM

BREAKING:

Report: Bestselling author Tom Clancy died in a hospital in Baltimore on Tuesday, his publisher confirms to @nytimes – @juliebosman

1 min ago by editor

canopfor on October 2, 2013 at 10:24 AM

I think that Reset Button got stuck.

Dexter_Alarius on October 2, 2013 at 10:24 AM

I found it! It’s right there, standing behind the podium, grunting and reading from a teleprompter!!!

Oh, sorry, thought that said fathead.

Gingotts on October 2, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Cartoon posted yesterday that summarizes O’Fatwa’s foreign policy….

hillsoftx on October 2, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Does this nuclear weapon make me look fatwa?

Ward Cleaver on October 2, 2013 at 10:27 AM

I knew a girl once that had a nice fatwa. But then she started drinking and…………

Herb on October 2, 2013 at 10:28 AM

We shouldn’t fool ourselves, either. It is Obama and his boot licking imbeciles that are all the fools.

NotCoach on October 2, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Riiiight, ‘cuz, like, um, ya know, nuclear weapons are unIslamic because they might kill innocents infidels.

What should we make of these fatwas?

Fatwa: ‘Sodomy For Jihad’ Is Honourable

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Again Calls For Destruction of All Churches On The Arabian Peninsula…

Iran Legalizes Sharia-Approved Pedophilia…

As Sparky would say:’F*ck the Korantards and those that believe their lies!’

Resist We Much on October 2, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Obama 2008: “Iran is just a small country…”

Obama 2013: “I just found our bestest friends ever in the middle east, come see!”

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on October 2, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Obama, the closet Muslim.
Next he will find a YouTube video about the fatwa.

I am surprised Obama has not issued a fatwa against the Republicans…

Barry Isuzu Obama, “Trust me”. If he speaks it, it is true.

I’m pretty sure Barry does have a fatwa against certain uncooperative members of the GOP and the TEA party too. It’s just unspoken and not well publicized.

hawkeye54 on October 2, 2013 at 10:41 AM

When asked why the White House believes the fatwa exists, Hayden declined to comment.

Maybe Obama thinks he wrote it.

Or, more believable, Obama has no problem with the Iranians “just making shit up”, because Barry does it all the time.

GarandFan on October 2, 2013 at 10:42 AM

It’s a thought out, deliberate lie from Barack Hussein Obama, designed to help an enemy of the United States of America.

rbj on October 2, 2013 at 10:07 AM

And an ally of the ObamiNation, and personal friends of Plugs Biden (assuming any of the gang from 1979 are still living, at least).

Steve Eggleston on October 2, 2013 at 10:58 AM

I am surprised Obama has not issued a fatwa against the Republicans…

albill on October 2, 2013 at 10:15 AM

He hasn’t? The government has acted as though that’s been in effect since the summer of 2008 when Teh SCOAMT became the Rat nominee.

Steve Eggleston on October 2, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Was that fatwa really issued by John Brennan?

Athos on October 2, 2013 at 11:07 AM

A fatwa issued today can be rescinded with a new fatwa minutes later…

Top 10 Bizarre or Ridiculous Fatwas
http://listverse.com/2010/02/25/top-10-bizarre-or-ridiculous-fatwas/

albill on October 2, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Cartoon posted yesterday that summarizes O’Fatwa’s foreign policy….

hillsoftx on October 2, 2013 at 10:27 AM

That is hilarious!

tomshup on October 2, 2013 at 11:52 AM

They must have confused that with the Fatwa that men could marry minor step daughters and adopted daughters.

pat on October 2, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Did the White House play Find the Fatwa?

They play hide the fatwa all the time.
They call it playing spades.

RovesChins on October 2, 2013 at 12:38 PM

The new fatwa is legitimate. It was issued by the other supreme leader, Obama.

burt on October 2, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Ok, let me get this clarified.
The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini supposedly issues a fatwa saying that Islam forbids the development or support of nuclear weapons. Yet Iran is prepping another few thousand centrifuge machines to enrich Uranium to a point 5X beyond that necessary for operating a nuclear power reactor. Am I on track here?
NOW … King Putt bases his WHOLE (appeasement) policy toward Iran on a nonexistent FATWA? And let it be known now that The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (It’s a Tax) John Roberts will find that a ‘fatwa’ has complete and amenable fealty with the Constitution of the United States.
Would some LIVeral’s please explain how this not ‘acting stupidly’ on the greatest scale in the history of the world?

Missilengr on October 2, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Obama knows that that Fatwa was a lie…Israel is clearly on it’s own
now and will have to attack Iran soon

sadsushi on October 2, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Great of Ed to include Rice’s warning.

Because we’re all sitting around on our tenterhooks, at the brink of a precipice if you will, just hankering for the latest pearl from Cotton Condi.

sartana on October 2, 2013 at 9:51 PM