Al Shabab Ban on Samosas

I like to think of myself as a truly multicultural, transnational, cosmopolitan, rootless wonder. I’ve traveled to various parts of the world and felt comfortable and at home in each of them, to varying degrees. I like learning new languages. The range of my sartorial choices would confuse you. I am completely and entirely faith-free. As for my popular culture preferences, if you knew me, you’d describe them as either “eclectic” or “crazy, effing all over the place,” depending on how much you liked me (or didn’t). But despite all this global-citizen posturing, I have a confession to make. When it comes to eating – an activity for which I feel unconditional love – nothing satisfies my palate like Indian food does.

So when I found myself with a plate of samosas yesterday, it wasn’t unexpected that I put away three of them in about ten minutes. I wanted more, of course, but there just wasn’t any room.

I hear ya, lady.

I hear ya, lady.

As I shared these first world problems with Boyfriend, hoping for some sympathy in return (Why? Why do I do this to myself? Six years, and I still don’t know better!), he went ahead and did exactly the opposite. He told me something that made me sad. And angry.

“Did you know that al-Shabab has banned samosas in Somalia, because they’ve deemed them un-Islamic?”

Wait, what now?

The Harakat-al-Shabab-al-Mujahideen, better known as al-Shabab, is a militant Islamic group that controls large parts of southern Somalia, and wages an endless civil war against the government. In the parts it controls, al-Shabab enforces some of the most oppressive, objectionable, and ridiculous laws in the name of religion, which would have been funny if they weren’t so cruel. (Banning women from wearing bras is just one of these laws.)

The latest item on al-Shabab’s hit list is the samosa (or sambusa, as it is known in some parts of the horn of Africa): that crispy, spicy, meaty, wholesome pocket of goodness.

Why? Because it is triangular.

So? Well, it has three corners.

…and? Duh! It obviously represents the Holy Trinity, dum dum!

Triangle that represents the Holy Trinity

Triangle that represents the Holy Trinity

Triangle that does not represent the Holy Trinity

Triangle that does not represent the Holy Trinity

For real. That’s how the samosa, a Somalian staple in the month of Ramadan, gets banned in a country with one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world.

That’s also how Boyfriend ruins my unadulterated joy in stuffing my face.

Want to know more? Go here. And here. Oh, and here (for the culinarily inclined among you).


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