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<nettime> Bin Laden Commercial Products
Bruce Sterling on Sat, 20 Oct 2001 05:54:49 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Bin Laden Commercial Products

Times of India article.  Note Cellphones, Bumper Stickers  *8-/

Osama products blitz Pak markets

UETTA: From chocolates to mobile phone messages and posters to t-shirts, the
bearded image of Osama Bin Laden is everywhere in Pakistan and fans of the
West's most wanted man can't buy enough.

Small businessmen said Bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban regime had always
enjoyed limited support in Pakistan, partly because of the official three
million Afghan refugees who live here.

But the US bombings of Afghanistan in response to the September 11 terrorist
attacks of New York and Washington blamed on Bin Laden have bolstered the
Saudi dissident's standing in the eyes of many.

In one popular poster, Bin Laden is riding a wild stallion and wielding a
silver sword. 

Another poster shows him in army green camouflage sporting a digital watch
with a compass. In other posters he is carrying uzi and Ak47 machine guns
and rocket launchers.

But the most popular glossy is a finger waving posture of Bin Laden as he
appears ready to launch into a lecture. This poster has proved a trademark
at militant rallies.

"Osama is very good for one side of business," said Ghulam Farook, a vendor
based outside the Mutton Market in Pakistan's southwest city of Quetta,
where thousands of Taliban and Bin Laden supporters have gathered for
rallies over the past two weeks.

Farook said he was selling 100 colour glossy posters of Bin Laden a day for
a few US cents each. He could sell more but the printers were not able to
keep up with demand.

The posters hang in street stalls beside cricket and body-building
magazines, or above Bin Laden wrapped sweets at the lollie shop near the
Quetta railway station.

But Farook added that poverty meant people were restricted in their spending
habits and Bin Laden was cannibalising other potential sales.

"We have lost elsewhere in sales because people can not afford to buy their
traditional magazines, books and newspapers, whether they are Islamic
orientated or not," Farook said.

Another vendor, in Quetta's Central market, Sabil Jamail, said white
t-shirts with a black Bin Laden print were selling by the thousands for
about four dollars each.

"They are all over Pakistan - Karachi, Peshwar, Islamabad and Lahore and
they are very popular, we don't have any, anymore. The people who support
Bin Laden are very dedicated," Jamail said.

Meanwhile, product sales in the jihad, or holy war, market is also strong.
Al Bador, a Quetta-based recruitment office for holy wars in Afghanistan,
Kashmir, Palestine and Chechnya has its own products of grisly posters and
bumper stickers available for a "donation".

The donations are used to fund training camps and Al Bador official Shahbaz
Baloch said their campaign, coupled with the US strikes on Afghanistan, had
attracted hundreds of Islamic fighters.

Outside the jihad recruitment offices and the madrassas Islamic schools),
another key source of holy war fighters, there is no shortage of consumers
with opinions.

"The Taliban is Islamic and America wants to attack Islam and not Osama Bin
Laden," said Abmat Unnah, who runs a nearby kitchen utensils shop.

"America is going the wrong way and we want the Taliban. This war will take
two years to finish, and we will win."

That message is echoed when his friend answers a text message on his mobile
phone. As the phone rings a graphic of Bin Laden appears on the screen with
the words Sher-e-Islam - Lion of Islam.

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