Semiotically Aroused Salafis: Blasphemy in the Kitchen

In my book on millennialism, I talk about how apocalyptic believers are “semiotically aroused”:

For people who have entered apocalyptic time, everything quickens, enlivens, coheres. They become semiotically aroused—everything has meaning, patterns. The smallest incident can have immense importance and open the way to an entirely new vision of the world, one in which forces unseen by other mortals operate. If the warrior lives with death at his shoulder, then apocalyptic warriors live with cosmic salvation before them, just beyond their grasp.

Now we have, again, a sign of just how tragicomic such semiotic arousal can be. Egyptian Salafis warn: don’t cut your tomatoes wrong.

‘Tomatoes are Christian,’ Egyptian Salafi group warns

The group’s message on Facebook.

A Salafi group called the “Popular Egyptian Islamic Association” has warned Muslims against eating tomatoes on the grounds that the fruit is a “Christian food,” has reported.

The group based its claim on the fact that a shape resembling a cross is revealed when one cuts a tomato in half. 

The association published the warning on its Facebook page with a photo of a tomato cut in half, revealing a cross-shaped interior.

A message posted on the page read, “Eating tomatoes is forbidden because they are Christian. [The tomato] praises the cross instead of Allah and says that Allah is three [in reference to the Holy Trinity].”

The message went on to say, “I implore you to spread this photo because there is a sister from Palestine who saw the Prophet of Allah in a vision and he was crying, warning his nation against eating [tomatoes]. If you don’t spread this [message], know that it is the devil who stopped you.”

If there’s a (legitimate) question about whether this semiotic arousal is apocalyptic or not, this suggests for former.

The message caused outrage among Facebook users, which prompted the group to clarify their warning, saying they did not tell people not to eat tomatoes. “We said don’t cut it in [such a way that it reveals] the cross shape.”

Of course, such semiotic arousal also plays a role in cognitive warfare.

In any case, warning to all you Muslim sous-chefs out there cutting tomatoes: watch how you wield your knife. It could consign you to the fires of hell, where you will be condemned to eat tomato sauce for eternity.

One Response to Semiotically Aroused Salafis: Blasphemy in the Kitchen

  1. […] Richard Landes says that for those “who enter apocalyptic time everything quickens” and they become “semiotically aroused", they seek patterns and meaning in both big and small events. Christopher Partridge calls this tendency to latch onto news and other events and view them through the apocalyptic frame: “semiotic promiscuity”. Albert Baumgarten argues that apocalyptic movements deploy what he terms a “spiritual radar” in this process: […]

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