Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Somalia's al-Shabaab group has banned samosas after ruling the popular snacks are too Christian, it was reported on Tuesday.
But the newspaper said locals believed al-Shabaab leaders had decided the triangular shape was not compatible with their strict version of Islam.
The unexpected move means Somalis could now expect to be punished if caught cooking, buying or eating samosas, known locally as sambusas.
The ban is the latest in a string of authoritarian rulings introduced by al-Shabaab, a violent Islamist organisation linked to al-Qaeda and classified by several countries as a terrorist group.
The extremist army has taken command of several provinces of Somalia and is fighting the country's official government for total control.
However it has been widely criticised for its strict enforcement of Shariah law and unmerciful treatment of the population.
At the weekend the organisation sparked outrage after saying it would refuse to allow overseas aid agencies into drought-hit parts of Somalia.
Militant Islamist fighters last week used vehicles mounted with loudspeakers to announce the bizarre ruling across the regions of the war-torn country it controls.
The extremist group has offered no official explanation for the ban on the triangular snacks, which are commonly cooked up and served across the Horn of Africa.
But it is believed the organisation took offence at the three-sided savouries' supposed resemblance to symbol of the Christian Holy Trinity.
Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper on Tuesday reported that residents of the Somali town of Afgoye, 20 miles south of the capital Mogadishu, had confirmed the samosa ban had been imposed.
The fried snacks, usually filled with spicy meat or vegetables, have been served for centuries in the East African country.
The UN last week declared a famine in two parts of the country and warned millions face death from starvation.
Al-Shabaab had previously suggested it would allow foreign agencies to bring in vital food aid to prevent its people from dying.
But on Friday the group denied the famine even existed and accused Western governments of inventing the crisis as a propaganda tool.
The organisation also warned foreign agencies were still banned in the regions of Somalia it controlled.
Experts have warned the group's refusal to acknowledge the food crisis could cause millions of unnecessary deaths as people struggle to find food amid a devastating drought.
The reported ban on samosas is the latest in a string of bizarre rulings from the organisation, which has been likened to the Afghan Taliban.
Earlier this year the group introduced a blanket ban on the playing or watching of football.
It has also previously ordered men to grow beards and warned it will take action against anyone caught wearing tight-fitting clothes.