As much as I am a devoted reader to the print edition of PAW, to my great shame, I must admit that I am several months behind. I just completed Mark Bernstein ’83’s excellent piece on Gen. (ret) Mark Milley ’80, which is insightful, probing, and well-written, as we have come to expect from the writer.

However, I wanted to draw your attention to one sentence: “It is a $30 million fatwa, or bounty, issued by a prosecutor's office in Tehran.” A fatwa is a ruling on a point of Islamic law issued by a Muslim cleric — they usually pertain to questions from individual Muslims who are unsure what Islamic law dictates in an ambiguous situation (e.g. purity rituals, prayer, food, etc.). In Judaism, this is called a rabbinic responsa. A prosecutor cannot issue a fatwa. (I think the confusion stems, particularly in the Iranian context, of the fatwa that Ayatollah Khomeini issued against Salman Rushdie that called for his execution in 1989. That was a religious ruling, declaring Rushdie a heretic, from an Iranian cleric who was dual-hatted as the Supreme Leader of the country.) To suggest that a legal bounty — perhaps similar to the $25 million bounty issued by the State Department for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden in the 2000s — is the same thing as a fatwa, when millions of nonpolitical fatwas are issued around the world by clerics to their faithful, can easily be construed as Islamophobic. While I am certain this was not PAW’s or Bernstein’s intention, I did want to flag it. Perhaps subject matter experts can be consulted in the editing process going forward. Thank you for your consideration.

I look forward to the next issue (by which I mean, October 2023)!

Editor’s note: The article has been updated online to reflect that Milley described the bounty as a “fatwa.”

Jordan Reimer ’08 *12
Washington, D.C.