June 20, 2012
A Salafist group from Egypt appears to be trying to retract a post on Facebook that warned that eating tomatoes are "forbidden because they are Christian."
However, the Muslim traditionalist group, calling themselves the Popular Egyptian Islamic Association, apparently still finds tomatoes offensive if they are cut in such a way that reveals the shape of a cross, according to the Now Lebanon website.
Along with a photo of a tomato cut in half to reveal what could be viewed as a cross, the group originally posted on Facebook: "Eating tomatoes is forbidden because they are Christian. [The tomato] praises the cross instead of Allah and says that Allah is three (a reference to the Trinity).
"[God help us]. I implore you to spread this photo because there is a sister from Palestine who saw the prophet of Allah [Mohammad] in a vision and he was crying, warning his nation against eating them [tomatoes]. If you don't spread this [message], know that it is the devil who stopped you," according to a translation by Now Lebanon.
More than 2,700 comments were left under the warning posted 10 days ago, perhaps prompting the association to give this response:
"We didn't say you can't eat tomatoes. We said don't cut it in [such a way that reveals] the cross shape."
Although many of the comments made on the Facebook post were not suitable for re-publishing, one blogger posting on his blog joked, "Warning! Your salad could be making you into an Infidel!"
There is an estimated 5-6 million Salafis in Egypt. The Salafis are generally considered to be more traditional than other Muslim sects. Last year, a group of hardline Muslims, including Salafis, were responsible for the burning of several Christian churches and businesses in Egypt that later resulted in hundreds of deaths during demonstrations against the destruction.
According to a German domestic intelligence report done in 2010, Salafism is the fastest growing Islamic movement in the world.
A writer for The Blaze categorized most news coming out of the Middle East as "intriguing, bizarre and unceasingly concerning," but said the forbidden tomatoes story "actually crosses into a comical sphere."