John Michael Safran... is an Australian radio personality, satirist, documentary maker and author, known for combining humour with religious, political and ethnic issues... Safran is known for his television stunts, which include placing a fatwa on Australian television host Rove McManus, ... -- Wikipedia

Is this true? Or: Did John Safran get a fatwa placed on Australian television host Rove McManus?

It supposedly took place in episode one of John Safran vs. God:

In the UK, Safran meets Sheikh Omar Bakri and Sheikh Abu Hamza and succeeds in getting a fatwa placed on Rove McManus for dropping John's scheduled appearance on Rove Live. The fatwa was later removed from McManus. -- Wikipedia

While amusing, it doesn't seem to match the definition of a fatwa:

A fatwa in the Islamic faith is a legal opinion or learned interpretation that the Sheikhul Islam, a qualified jurist or mufti, can give on issues pertaining to the Islamic law. -- Wikipedia

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: Yes, John Safran an Australian media personality influenced Omar Bakri Muhammad an Islamic cleric to issue an incorrect fatwa against Rove McManus an Australian television show host based on false allegations and incorrect evidence. The fatwa was then declared as void by Omar Bakri Muhammad.


  1. Fatwa is an Islamic legal declaration or opinion pertaining to a specific issue issued by an expert in Islamic religious law at the request of an individual or judge to resolve an issue where Islamic principles are unclear.

Most importantly, a fatwā is not by definition a pronouncement of death or a declaration of war. A fatwā is an Islamic legal pronouncement, issued by an expert in religious law (mufti), pertaining to a specific issue, usually at the request of an individual or judge to resolve an issue where Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), is unclear. A qaļā, on the other hand, is a legal ruling made by a judge (qādī) that, issued in a nation where Islamic law is observed, is binding on those to whom it is dealt. Usually issued to resolve a legal dispute, a qaļā may be based on a fatwā, yet it applies only to the individuals or groups named in the ruling and no one else. A ruler can impose a qaļā on his entire nation. Source: What is a Fatwa?

Fatwas promoting violence against individuals alleged to be involved in blasphemy against Islam can also be pronounced by Islamic clerics. Such fatwas imply that it is permissible for Muslims to kill individuals involved in blasphemy against Islam. However, not all fatwas involve death sentences or threats.

The Islamist demand for a global curb to free speech first burst upon the scene in 1989, when Salman Rushdie was condemned to death by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini (whose fatwa was bolstered with a decidedly worldly bounty, recently increased, by $500,000, to $3.3 million). Source: Fatwa against Free Speech

  1. John Michael Safran an Australian radio personality in a 2004 Australian television series 'John Safran Versus God' had presented Omar Bakri Muhammad a Syrian Salafi Islamist leader with documentation of false crimes against Islam allegedly committed by Rove McManus who is an Australian television variety show host.

From next Monday John Safran will be remembered as the guy who had a fatwa placed on Rove McManus. This happens at the beginning of his new SBS series, John Safran Versus God, which was filmed in five continents over 10 weeks and casts a quizzical eye over the world's religions. It's an audacious stunt, even by Safran's standards. First he meets Britain's now-imprisoned Muslim cleric Abu Hamza before gaining an audience with the elusive Omar Bakri Muhammad. Source: Tempting fate

Omar Bakri Muhammad had issued a "big" fatwa on Rove McManus based on these false allegations (since the evidence presented to him was considered offensive) which is seen here at timestamp 9:40 to 9:51 of the video and once this evidence was revealed as false, the fatwa was removed by Omar Bakri Muhammad which can be viewed here at timestamp 10:24 of the video.

"I actually didn't know who they were," admits Safran, 31, over coffee. "When I was briefing the researcher, I was going, 'We need some religious authority who can help us get a fatwa.' It was only afterwards I was going, 'Oh, my God, you got me the head of the UK sharia court.' Safran presents Bakri with a series of hilarious forgeries documenting McManus's supposed crimes against Islam. Some, such as Satanic Verses II, are ludicrous, but others must have given the SBS lawyers heart palpitations. "The original version of that story we had to, um, edit. People working on the show were worried we'd softened it too much." Source: Tempting fate

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