A statement from the wife of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been released online, praising the role of women in the Arab Spring uprisings that have toppled authoritarian governments throughout North Africa and the Middle East in the past year and a half.
"I congratulate all females of the world for these blessed revolutions, and I salute every mother who sacrificed her loved ones in the revolutions," Umaima Hassan Ahmed Mohammed Hassan, one of al-Zawahiri's four known wives, wrote in a letter posted on the Al-Fajr website on Friday. "It is really an Arab Spring and will soon become an Islamic Spring."
The Arab Spring rebellions and revolutions have largely been viewed as popular democratic movements that are not driven by religious ideology, but al Qaeda has attempted to co-opt their momentum for its own ideological purposes.
Hassan also made an appeal to mothers in the Muslim world to raise their children to embrace militant Islamic values. "I advise you to raise your children in the cult of jihad and martyrdom and to instill in them a love for religion and death," she wrote. "Each woman would raise her child to be a new Saladin [a 12th-century Kurdish general who defeated the Crusaders in battle and became the first sultan of Egypt] by telling him, 'It is you who will restore the grandeur of the Islamic nation and you will liberate Jerusalem.'"
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