Tunisian authorities arrested several young women who allegedly left their homes to perform sexual jihad. According to the officials, the arrest supports rumors that have been plaguing Tunisia for months.
BBC reported the story roots from the Chaambi mountains located near Algeria where militants and the army have engaged in battles since 2012. Tunisian authorities reportedly made the arrests in the cities surrounding Chaambi.
Families of the detained women are in shock, sources said. The rest of Tunisia greeted the government statement with scepticism.
In an interview with Ahmed Maher of the BBC, a mother of one of the accused believes that her 17-year-old daughter is innocent.
The teenage girl is one of 19 women detained for sexual jihad. Her mother said her daughter "has never been to the Chaambi mountains."
"These are false accusations, " she added.
In a statement in September, Interior Minister Lofti bin Jido said girls and women went to the Tunisian countryside and Syria to perform sexual jihad as a way of boosting the morale of jihadists.
The minister said the Tunisian women and girls were "swapped between 20, 30 and 100 rebels." He added the girls came back "bearing the fruit of sexual contacts in the name of sexual jihad."
Critics of the government dismissed the Interior Minister's statement and said stories about sexual jihad are political propaganda. Observatoire de l'islamisation reported Oct. 14 that women who were "brainwashed" to provide sexual services to the Mujaheddin were told they will get heavenly salvation.
Examiner also reported that Sheikh Muhammad al-'Arifi of the King Fahad Mosque allegedly issued a fatwa or an Islamic ruling that Muslim women and girls should go to Syria to help "relieve pent up sexual frustration" of jihadists.
According to Asharq Al-Awsat, sexual jihad is a lie. Other newspapers and magazines such as Le Monde and Foreign Policy also conducted investigations on the sexual jihad controversy but found that the Imam who allegedly issued the fatwa never issued such a ruling.
Asharq Al-Awsat's Diana Moukalled also reiterated that Tunis officials who issued the statements regarding sexual jihad were not able to "present solid evidence."
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