Tunisian women have travelled to Syria to wage "sex jihad" by comforting Islamist fighters battling the regime there, Interior Minister Lotfi ben Jeddou has told MPs.
"They have sexual relations with 20, 30, 100" militants, the minister told members of Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly on Thursday. "After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of 'jihad al-nikah' (sexual holy war, in Arabic) and they come home pregnant," Ben Jeddou told the MPs.
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However, Ben Jeddou also said that since he assumed office in March, "six thousand of our young people have been prevented from going there" to Syria.
He has said in the past that border controls have been boosted to intercept young Tunisians seeking to travel to Syria.
Tunisia's former mufti also commented on the issue some six months ago. The mufti, who was dismissed in wake of his comments, claimed that some 13 Tunisian girls were unlawfully taken to Syria to sleep with rebels, allegedly as part of a 'sexual jihad' which he claimed was no less than prostitution.
"For the sake of jihad in Syria they seduce our girls to go there," the mufti told Al Arabiya, adding that "13 girls were sent there for this 'sexual jihad'. What is this? It is is a form of prostitution. Moral decay."
Jihad al-nikah – or 'sexual holy war – permitting extramarital sexual relations with multiple partners, is considered by some hardliner Sunni Muslim Salafists as a legitimate form of holy war.
The Iranian news agency Fars published a report some months ago which claimed that a religious decree was issued permitting sexual relations between woman and rebels on the condition their relations are confined to a number of hours. The decree also allowed woman to take on multiple partners during one day.
Tunisia has seen hundreds of men join the ranks of the jihadists fighting to bring down the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Generally, media reports say thousands of Tunisians have, over the past 15 years, joined jihadists across the world in Afghanistan Iraq and Syria, mainly travelling via Turkey or Libya.
Abu Iyadh, who leads the country's main Salafist movement Ansar al-Sharia, is the suspected organizer of a deadly attack last year on the US embassy in Tunis and an Afghanistan veteran.
He was joint leader of a group responsible for the September 9, 2001 assassination in Afghanistan of anti-Taliban Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud by suicide bombers.
That attack came just two days before the deadly al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Centro in New York and Pentagon in Washington.
AFP contributed to this report
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