An Islamic cleric living in Europe reportedly has warned Muslim women not to get too close to bananas, cucumbers or other produce -- to avoid having “sexual thoughts.”
The unnamed cleric, whose directive was featured in an article in el-Senousa, a religious publication, purportedly said that if women wanted to eat these foods, a third party -- preferably a male related to them, such as their father or husband -- should cut the items into small pieces before serving, the Egyptian website Bikya Masr reported.
Carrots and zucchini also were added to the alleged cleric's list of forbidden foods for women.
News of the statement quickly spread online, leaving many liberal Muslims embarrassed and angry, evoking a flurry of mockery in online forums.
"Many of the commentators are Muslims themselves, who have expressed their anger against the cleric for making Islamic religious practices appear unreasonable," The International Business Times reported.
BikyaMasr.com said the cleric, identified only as a sheikh, was asked in the interview how to “control” women when they are shopping for groceries, and whether holding these items at the market would be bad, to which he replied that the matter was between them and God.
Questions also arose about the validity of the original published interview. An online search for the el-Senousa article, for instance, yields only results linking to the Bikya Masr report.
But the mere suggestion of a strict order for Muslim women handling food has been enough to send people to website forums and Twitter to air their indignation.
Danish/Lebanese journalist Helen Hajjij tweeted on Wednesday: “So if Muslim women should stay away from cucumbers and bananas, should men stay away from melons?”