Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Iraq: A Fatwa on your carp!

It does sound pretty gross. River's abundance of corpses ruin Iraqis appetite for fish.

Dead bodies frequently pulled from the River Tigris have dulled the Iraqi capital's appetite for masqouf, its popular dish of grilled carp, after it was reported that clerics had warned that the fish dined on rotting corpses."

They spread rumors about the fish, that they eat the bodies of drowned people, but this is just a rumor," said fisherman Hussein Ahmed, 62, after setting his nets within sight of the heavily fortified Green Zone compound on the banks of the Tigris.

Scores of corpses turn up every week in Baghdad, victims of unrelenting violence between majority Shiites and minority Sunni Arabs.Many are dumped in the Tigris, which flows through the heart of the city and was once lined with restaurants specializing in the masqouf people loved to eat on Friday nights.

Most riverfront eateries closed after they became magnets for insurgents' bomb attacks.

A fatwa, or religious edict, forbidding Iraqis to eat fish from the Tigris was reported by Iraqi media recently, but tracing its original source has been tricky. Prominent Shiite clerics in the holy southern city of Najaf yesterday denied any knowledge of the edict. Officials from the government office representing imams who run Iraq's Sunni mosques were not available for comment.