Here's a sampling of the ROP's classics. Who: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran
What: A fatwa is simply a religious ruling in Islam-most often, it seems, fatwas are about sexual matters-but Westerners usually associate the term with the notorious 1989 death sentence against British author Salman Rushdie. At the time, Khomeini was seeking to distract his followers from the pointless slaughter of the recently ended Iran-Iraq war, during which hundreds of thousands of Iranians were killed and wounded. Rushdie had just authored The Satanic Verses, an edgy novel about the origins of the Koran, and thus proved the perfect foil for Khomeini's designs. Thousands of irate Muslims around the world protested the book as an insult to Islam. For a decade, Rushdie lived in hiding, fearing assassination for his "apostasy." More recently, when Queen Elizabeth II knighted the author for his literary achievements, al Qaeda called for retaliation against Britain. And Khomeini's successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, reversed his earlier position and said that the original 1989 fatwa remains in force.
Who:Rashad Hassan Khali, former dean of Islamic law at al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt
What: When Khalil ruled in January 2006 that for married couples, "being completely naked during the act of coitus annuls the marriage," liberal Egyptians howled with derision. Other scholars rejected Khalil's logic on the grounds that everything but "sodomy" is halil in marriage. Absorbing the criticism but seeking to appease religious conservatives, Abdullah Megawar, the fatwa committee chairman at Al-Azhar, reached for an awkward compromise. Sure, he said, a husband and wife could see one another naked, but should not look at each other's genitals. And they should probably have sex under a blanket, he added for good measure.
Who: Saudi Arabia's Higher Council for Scientific Research and Islamic Law
What: Denouncing the lovable Japanese cartoon characters as having "possessed the minds" of Saudi youngsters, Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority banned Pokemon video games and cards in the spring of 2001. Not only do Saudi scholars believe that Pokemon encourages gambling, which is forbidden in Islam, but it is apparently a front for Israel as well. The fatwa's authors claimed that Pokemon games include, "the Star of David, which everyone knows is connected to international Zionism and is Israel's national emblem." Religious authorities in the United Arab Emirates joined in, condemning the games for promoting evolution, "a Jewish-Darwinist theory that conflicts with the truth about humans and with Islamic principals," but didn't ban them outright. Even the Catholic Church in Mexico got into the act, calling Pokemon video games "demonic." There are a couple more, but you get the idea. Islamic fundamentalism-keeping ignorance in the top ten for more than a thousand years!