News out of the Middle East never ceases to be intriguing, bizarre and unceasingly concerning. But the story you're about to read actually crosses into a comical sphere. The Popular Egyptian Islamic Association, a Salafist (extremist Sunni Muslims who support jihad) group out of Egypt allegedly took to its Facebook page this month to urge followers not to eat tomatoes, claiming that they are a Christian vegetable (botanically it's a fruit).
According to the Now Lebanon web site, an image of a tomato cut in half was posted on the group's page. In the picture, the insides of the vegetable appear to show what looks like a Christian cross (see above). The web site reports that the text accompanying the picture reads:
"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.”
The image and the text spawned more than 2,700 comments and, ironically, over 400 "likes." Now Lebanon continues, explaining what happened after the bizarre message was posted:
Predictably, Facebook users expressed outrage over the post, which prompted the group to clarify its stance on the controversy with the update, “We didn’t say you can’t eat tomatoes. We said don’t cut it in [such a way that reveals] the cross shape.”
Of course, many of the people who commented on the post simply found it hilarious. Consider this small sampling of some of the more recent statements posted on the Facebook page:
In covering the bizarre controversy, Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer joked, "Your salad could be making you into an Infidel!"
(H/T: Jihad Watch)