Sunday, June 04, 2006

falafel as the weapon of the infidels

It's that remarkable how a small story can make you ponder deeply about deep socio-cultural trends shaping the modern world:
Aqeel Hussein
Daily Telegraph
441 words
4 June 2006
BAGHDAD - As the purveyors of nothing spicier than the odd dash of hot chilli sauce, Baghdad's falafel vendors had never imagined their snacks might be deemed a threat to public morality.

Now, though, their simple offerings of chickpeas fried in breadcrumbs have gone the same way as alcohol, pop music and foreign films -- labelled theologically impure by the country's growing number of Islamic zealots.

In a bizarre example of Iraq's creeping "Talibanisation," militants visited falafel vendors a fortnight ago, telling them to pack up their stalls by Sunday or be killed.

The ultimatum seemed so bizarre that, at first, most laughed it off -- until two of them were shot dead as they plied their trade.

"They came telling us, 'You have 14 days to end this job' and I asked them what was the problem," said Abu Zeinab, 32, who was packing up his stall for good Saturday in the suburb of al Dora, a hardline Sunni neighbourhood.

"I said I was just feeding the people, but they said there were no falafels in Muhammad the Prophet's time, so we shouldn't have them either.

"I felt like telling them there were no Kalashnikovs in Mohammed's time either, but I wanted to keep my life."

It's of course highly ironic that the imagined return to the sixth century way of life can only be enforced with the help of a twenty century weaponry. So the vendor is right and wish him well and hope he's still alive.
But on the other hand, setting aside the extremity of this particular case, this example may serve as a perfect metaphor that separates the post-modern world of the West with its obsession on keeping up with the current (from fashion to religion) and other parts of our planet where people discuss whether falafels should be banned or not.


At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Robert Nanders said...

I mean, I WAS buying up Falafel shops in Baghdad as a way to import Southern Baptism, but I didn't think they'd catch on so quickly!

Yikes, and I hear they're shooting men for wearing shorts. Insanity. Everyone knows that it takes short-shorts to merit a shooting.


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