A study in paranoia, credulity and hatred in Saudi Arabia, and of how easily such allegations are spread. “‘Israeli melons have AIDS’,” by Roee Nahmias for YNet News:
“Beware of Israeli melons infected with AIDS arriving in Saudi Arabia!” is the latest rumor being spread throughout Saudi Arabia like a wildfire.
An SMS message being sent around the country this week said, “The Saudi Interior Ministry warns its citizens of a truck loaded with AIDS infected melons that Israel brought into the country via a ‘ground corridor.'”
If you can’t find a factual reason to stoke hatred, make something up.
The Interior Minister’s spokesman General Mansour al Turki responded to news of the message and made it clear to a-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that the Ministry “did not issue any such announcement. This is just a rumor.”
This is not the first rumor to spread through the country recently. Just last month another rumor had it that sweets containing carcinogenic flour were being sold in many stores.
Al Turki urged the public to ignore such passing rumors, and said that the authorities were doing everything in their power to ensure the citizens’ wellbeing.
Head of the center for chemicals and toxins in Mecca, Dr Ahmad Elias also stressed that there was no truth to these rumors.
“The center is the first official body that would receive such information, if it were true, in order to investigate and inform the relevant bodies to take the necessary steps,” said Elias.
“The HIV virus cannot survive in any temperature other than that of the human body, which can not be reached in fruits,” he explained.
The rumor, despite being denied several times, has gained so much steam in the Arab world that it made it to the front page of one of the most important [Arabic] language newspapers.
Many received an SMS supposedly from the Saudi Interior Ministry saying, “Please forward quickly.”