Enemy of Islam

The latest target of the Islamic religious fanatics who now control the streets of Baghdad -- thanks America! -- is the humble falafel sandwich.

Roving thugs who fancy themselves Islamic judges are "Talibinizing" the wrecked city, handing out their own edicts and murdering anyone who disagrees.

Targeting the usual vices -- such as women walking in public or any sort of newsstand or DVD vendor who offers something racy -- apparently wasn't enough for the Sunni toughs. So they went after the hardworking street vendors who offer cheap and tasty food to a hungry, doomed city.

In a sick parody of the American health police, the tough guys are even imposing their own smoking bans on various restaurants. Instead of a fine, those who violate the smoking ban are slaughtered.

Falafel vendors first thought the fanatics were kidding about the falafel ban. But then two people who run falafel stands were shot dead in the street.

"They came telling us, 'You have 14 days to end this job,' and I asked them what was the problem," falafel man Abu Zeinab told England's Daily Telegraph.

"I said I was just feeding the people, but they said there were no falafels in Muhammad the prophet's time, so we shouldn't have them either. I felt like telling them there were no Kalashnikovs in Muhammad's time either, but I wanted to keep my life."

There were no pizzas and cola drinks in Muhammad's time, either, but merchants selling those Western treats have yet to be targeted by Iraq's brutal street-gang version of the Taliban.

Some suspect it's about Israel, because it's always about Israel. Falafel stands are wildly popular in the Jewish state -- as they are in every Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern nation, as well as pretty much any big city in the world these days.

But it's a political issue because Israelis claim the falafel as a national food. Palestinians say European Jews stole the tasty dish from local Arabs when those Jews first began resettling the Holy Land a century ago.

In fact, falafel is an ancient Egyptian food, predating both the Islamic religion and the founding of Israel.

Made originally from crushed and fried fava beans, most of today's falafel is made from chickpeas prepared in the same way. Stuffed in pita bread and topped with vegetables and sauces, the falafel is a cheap and healthy fast food.

But even though it has been a staple in the Middle East for thousands of years, it is no longer safe on the streets of the blood-soaked hellscape of Baghdad.

The United States military brought peace, prosperity and democracy to Iraq in 2003.

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