TAM: Cucumber “Fatwa” Seems to Be Only Shoddy Reporting

Sexy BananasSexy Bananas

The loons are having a field day spreading a ridiculous rumor about an Islamic cleric who supposedly issued a fatwa warning women not to get near bananas and cucumbers because long, slender fruits and vegetables might inspire “sexy thoughts.” Supposedly he also added carrots and zucchini to the list of forbidden foods for women.

Various anti-Muslim hate sites seized the opportunity to ridicule Muslims, including the infamous Jihad Watch and Atlas Shrugs. In No Cucumbers or Bananas for you, Slut!, Pamela Geller makes a nauseating attempt at humor at the expense of Muslims:

Obama say, “Respect it!” Jay Leno’s wife Mavis say, “The Qur’an is more liberal with women than the Bible.” Geller say, “One banana split, please, and a side of cukes, with extra whipped creme, thankyouverymuch.

Hell knows, whenever I am feeling lonely or blue, I head down to D’Agostinos and I perk right up again.

Seriously, this is a war on women, about women and ultimately to control women. Women are the ultimate booty, the spoils of war, chattel.

Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim investigated and concluded the rumor was unsubstantiated and a result of “shoddy reporting”:

Cucumber “fatwa” seems to be only shoddy reporting

by Sheila Musaji
There was supposedly a fatwa written which would deserve ridicule if it exists.  The original article about this was posted on Bikyamasr, an Egyptian news site, and the article was written by an individual named Manar Ammar.  Manar Ammar is identified as a Senior Reporter and Women’s Editor for Bikyamasr.com.

The article quotes an UNNAMED Islamic Cleric residing in Europe who “has banned women from touching bananas, cucumbers and other elongated fruit and vegetable due to their sexual resemblance”  The Bikyamasr article refers to the source as “The unnamed sheikh, who was featured in an article on el-Senousa news”.

I tried searching for el-Senousa news, but got nowhere.  There is no site for any such entity.  I can find nothing about them searching the net except for hundreds of articles reposting the article from Bikyamasr which mentions el-Senousa as its source.

Muna Khan at al Arabiya reports the same problems I had in finding the actual source of this story, and says “According to the Canadian news site Straight.com, it’s been difficult to find the El-Senousa site on which Bikya Masr based its article on. A simple search of the website takes you to a list of articles on the story being quoted but not to the main site itself.”  She points out that there have been enough of what I call “stupid fatwas” to make anything easy to believe, but, it is an irresponsible rush to judgement to just assume something is true and publish it without any fact checking.

I found the article from Straight here, and it says “That’s some pretty good flame-bait, but is it legit? According to the article in bikyamasr.com, the story originally appeared on something called “el-Senousa news”, but good luck finding it. In fact, a Google search for “el-Senousa news” only points back—many times over—to the article in bikyamasr.com.  Between that and the somewhat intangible location and identity of the “unnamed sheikh” in the article, the tale of the vegetable-fearing Mullah is starting to look a little short on authenticity. What’s more likely is that the independent news service bikyamasr.com is reacting to the troubling emergence of the hard-line Salafi Al-Nou party in Egypt’s (reportedly fraud-ridden) election—a story that, sadly, isn’t so cockamamie.

This article was immediately picked up and posted with appropriate anti-Muslim comments by just about every site in the Islamophobic echo chamber.

Robert Spencer posted the “story” from Bikyamasr on Jihad Watch and included in his lede “It’s all about controlling women, like so many aspects of Islamic law. Sharia Alert from Eurabia”.

The always ladylike Pamela Geller posted this on Atlas Shrugs under the heading No cucumbers or bananas for you, slut!  and included in the lede “Obama say, “Respect it!” Jay Leno’s wife Mavis say, “The Qur’an is more liberal with women than the Bible.” Geller say, “One banana split, please, and a side of cukes, with extra whipped creme, thankyouverymuch.”

Weazel Zippers simply posted the article with no lede, but the comments their readers posted in response are truly hateful.  For example: — ALL of Islam is a plague, a disease of the mind and soul.Folks there is going to be a war—-I mean a real war where winner takes all and these animals will gladly die for their cause so we better get ready to do the same…..and I don’t ever again want to hear the term moderate muslim….my reply to that is show me one—just one.

You get the idea about the response to this article, and that response is not to a particular unknown shaikh, but to all Muslims.  Perhaps the author of the article and the Egyptian site that posted it are unaware that there is a problem with Islamophobia out there.

Why would anyone post an article about an unnamed person residing somewhere in one of the 47 countries of Europe who had supposedly issued a stupid fatwa without any corroborating evidence that this was even true.  What is the point of raising this issue in such a thoughtless way?  This is not a satirical article making fun of the stupidity involved in such a fatwa.  This is not an article that provides concrete facts about the author of the fatwa, or that provides any counter arguments.  There are no facts here that others could use to counter the fatwa, or to make a judgement about the author.

Whatever the reason that Bikyamasr had for posting this bit of unsubstantiated nonsense, the only effect it has had was to give the Islamophobes yet another item to use for years to come to bash Muslims.  This article was not just irresponsible, it was as stupid as the supposed fatwa would be if it in fact exists.

I would like to see either a clarification of the article with actual information about the supposed fatwa and its supposed author (that can be verified), or an apology for engaging in reckless speculation and passing on of rumors.

It’s not as if we don’t have enough actual members of the Muslim lunatic fringe that need to be countered, that we need to make them up.

UPDATE 12/10/2011

I received an email from the Founder and Editor of Bikyamasr:

Thank you for your email. I am Joseph Mayton, the Editor and Founder of Bikyamasr.com. I would like to bring your attention to the corrected version of the article, which now has the appropriate name of the publication where the information first appeared in Arabic, with a link.

We take full responsibility for this error and have stated so on the article. It is unfortunate that it has been taken out of context, but we feel that by talking about the anger it initially sparked was properly done. At the end, these places are going to take any little bit of information for their own purposes. It is sad.

I hope you will understand that we do our utmost to source anything from a third party, as any other news website would.

If you have any other questions, or would like to interview me, or our staff, please let us know.

Thank you very much for the email, Joseph

The article now lists the source of this “fatwa” as el-Sawsana news and the link takes you to a site that is only in Arabic.  I don’t speak Arabic, so am unable to make out what the original article of this “news” item might have been.

I received a second email from Joseph Mayton asking me to check out a follow up article that they have now posted Cucumber sheikh “far from the truth,” says Egypt Islamic leader.  This new article quotes Sheikh Gaber Taye’ Youssef, identified as “An Islamic scholar and chairman at Egypt’s Religious Endowments Ministry said this sheikh could not be more “far from the truth.” …  He expressed serious doubts that the sheikh sourced is even qualified for his position.  “Nonesense and wrong, such talk is empty of any logic or sense and has no roots or relations with Islam or its belief system,” said Youssef when Bikyamasr.com interviewed him over the phone early on Saturday.

Sheikh Youssef’s opinion is exactly what any mainstream Muslim already knew.

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