The Free Syrian Army is not only in the rebellion business. Some of its members seem to be in the practical joke business, too.
In an apparent prank uploaded to YouTube last week, a band of armed Syrian rebels stand around a man bearing a camera who is identified as a Japanese reporter and convince him to utter the shahada, the Muslim declaration of creed required for conversion.
A man off-camera announces that “a Japanese journalist is professing his conversion to the religion of Islam” under the auspices of their rebel brigade, situated on Mount Turkmen, outside Latakia.
The Japanese reporter then repeats the shahada‘s declaration that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger. According to Islam, an earnest pronouncement of the shahada is the only requirement to convert to Islam.
Whether or not the “conversion” is in earnest is not immediately obvious, but seems highly unlikely. The camera-bearing, bespectacled young Japanese man gives no sign of knowing what he is saying, and certainly undergoes no evident spiritual experience. Still, he seems fairly cheerful about the whole process, his facial expression switching from initial inscrutability to subsequent mild smiling.
The rebel instructing the reporter seems barely able to restrain his laughter, and several of his companions are beaming from ear to ear.
After a ringing Allahu Akbar, the rebels ask the man his name and he is instructed to reply: “Mustafa.”