Some years ago a strange urban legend spread in Cairo. The media spread stories of Israeli girls, female tourists, who traveled to Egypt for the purpose of injecting Egyptian men with HIV-AIDS virus through sexual intercourse. Eventually the story died down.
Now a similar urban legend is spreading across some of the Persian Gulf social media. Iran is a major source of fruits and vegetables for the Gulf region. The story is that exported Iranian watermelon is ‘deliberately’ injected with chemicals that would make presumably everybody in the GCC states as smart (or as dumb) as Dhahi Khalfan (the clownish deputy head of the Dubai Police and a strong advocate of the theory). Or as Faisal Al Qassem, a loquacious Syrian opportunist who works for the media of Qatari potentates. Or as some Gulf Salafi activists who jumped at the chance with their own conspiracy theories.
Their worst fear is no doubt that the mullahs have developed a chemical that could convert anybody exposed to it into a Shi’a. Imagine, eat Iranian melon and risk becoming a Shi’a heretic.
Some Gulf tribal Salafis have gone literally bananas, gone almost ape, over this new Persian Safawi Magian Zoroastrian Rifidhi Heretic threat to regional security. Others have started to make fun of the whole thing.
This new bout of Iranophobia (or Shia-phobia) paranoia was activated by the discovery of some holes in the skin of imported melons. Some countries have withdrawn the melons from the market for testing, which is probably a reasonable thing to do.
But a conspiracy to inject chemicals in the melons? Is it possible that a chemical-injected watermelon can make us any dumber than we are? I doubt it………….
That is not why we sometimes fondly call our region: watermelon countries………..
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum