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Journal d'un nomade

Journal d'un nomade

Restless, shifting, fugacious as time itself is a certain vast bulk of the population of the red brick district of the lower West Side. Homeless, they have a hundred homes. They flit from furnished room to furnished room, transients forever - transients in abode, transients in heart and mind. They sing "Home, Sweet Home" in ragtime; they carry their lares et penates in a bandbox; their vine is entwined about a picture hat; a rubber plant is their fig tree. (O. Henry)

Fatwa in Khayyam's Pub

Foued is a Canadian journalist born in Tunisia. He recently visited his birth country, accompanied by group of “pure laine” Canadian reporters interested in Tunisia. The group had already booked a first-class hotel in Hammamet. As soon as they arrived to the lobby of the hotel, a swarm of waiters rushed in their direction offering them a welcoming cocktail. Foued returned their greetings in Arabic, but as soon as he stretched his hand towards a cocktail, a waiter suddenly grabbed the glass and said: “You are not supposed to drink alcohol, sir. It’s Ramadan.” Foued didn’t show his anger and ignored the waiter’s remark. Shortly before the opening of the dining room Foued and his colleagues paid a visit the hotel’s pub to have a drink before supper.

The bartender greeted the reporters and gently enquired about their wishes. Considering his colleagues as his own guests in his birth country, he yielded priority to them. So he expressed the last wish:

- Would you please give me a beer, sir?

- I am awfully sorry, sir, but we are not supposed to serve alcohol to Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

- But I am not Muslim, sir.

- How come? You speak Arabic fluently and you look like a Tunisian! Are you a Jew? If you are one, you have to show me your identity card, sir.

- I am neither Muslim nor Christian nor Jewish nor Baha’i. I’m atheist.

- I don’t understand what you are talking about. All I know is that I am not supposed to sell Alcohol to Tunisians.

- Eureka! I am Canadian. I can show you my passport, if you want.

- I fear this wouldn’t change anything.

- Well, I have a brilliant idea: let’s call the Mufti of the Republic. I will abide by his fatwa. Will you?

- His office is closed now and it is not easy to find his cellphone number.

- Don’t worry, I have it. That’s the advantage of being journalist.

Foued pulled his cellphone from his pocket and dialed the mufti’s number:

- Hello! God bless your health after a long fasting day!

- Thank you, my son. What’s up?

- I’ll put it in a few words: I am at the pub of Khayyam hotel in Hammamet and the bartender refused to serve me a beer alleging that I was a Muslim, but I am not. I am an atheist.

- Is this a joke? I don’t have time for jokes, my son.

- It’s not a joke. I swear by God that I am and have always been an atheist. I’ve never entered a mosque nor fasted in Ramadan. I even believe that pilgrimage to Mecca is a kind of paganism.

- I’ve got it. Can I speak to the bartender?

- Sure, just a second please.

(The Mufti talking to the bartender):

- Happy Ramadan, my son. Don’t worry! I’ll solve the conflict in less than a minute. Just put a bottle of beer in front of your client and then ask him to put his hand on the bottle and swear: “I swear by this sin that I am not a Muslim.” As soon as he does, you may serve him as much beer or whatever as he wants. May God let us enjoy the wines of the Paradise after the Apocalypse! Have a nice evening!

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