Media reports are circulating that an unidentified Muslim cleric in Europe issued a ban on women touching fruits and vegetables such as bananas, cucumbers, carrots and zucchinis because they "resemble the male penis."
According to the Egyptian news website Bikya Masr, the cleric, whose diktat was featured in an article on a religion website, el-Senousa, said that "if women wish to eat these food items, a third party, preferably a male related to them such as their father or husband should cut the items into small pieces and serve" it to them.
GlobalPost has not independently verified this story, and there is now speculation circulating online that the story may be false.
A Canadian news site, Straight.com, questions if the story is 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.
According to the Times of India, liberal Muslims are fairly enraged and embarrassed by the reports. As TOI points out, "repression of women in ultra-conservative Islamic societies has been an intense subject of debate throughout the world."
The International Business Times reported that the sheikh's comment has become a target of online mockery.
"Many of the commentators are Muslims themselves, who have expressed their anger against the cleric for making Islamic religious practices appear unreasonable," the IBT reported.
The cleric's alleged words come after a "scholarly" report by the Majlis al-Ifta al-Aala, Saudi Arabia's highest Islamic council, warned that if women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive, there would be no more virgins in the country because driving may lead to a "surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce."
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This story has been updated to reflect new developments.