Egyptian flag sales boom amid protests, revelry
Flags hottest-selling items; Anti-Mubarak protests infused with patriotic fervor.
February 14, 2011 12:43 by Reuters
Like many of the other flag vendors quick to spy a market opportunity, Bala said this was not his original job. He used to sell clothing on the street, but was now making quick money.
“Ever since Mubarak left, we’ve been making a lot of money, a lot more than before,” he said.
Across the street, hundreds of people danced to music blasting from speakers and shot flames from aerosol canisters.
Sherif Ibrahim and his mother walked by, with three flags between them. “For us, the Egyptian flag means honour,” he said. I feel extremely proud when I hold it. It’s not just fabric.”
Many vendors said the last time they sold so many flags was after Egypt’s footballers won last year’s Africa Cup of Nations, which also brought hundreds of thousands to the streets.
Understandably, the pride at having ousted one of the world’s most enduring strongmen in just 18 days ran much deeper.
“That (the African Cup) was just a match, you know, but this is a revolution. We feel free now,” Selma Imam, an 18-year-old student said, as she sat with a flag on a car in downtown Cairo.
Many vendors get their flags in Attaba, a labyrinth of narrow alleys packed with goods as diverse as sponges, incense, toy trucks, batteries, cigarette lighters and coconuts.
Retailers like Magdy, who joined early protests, get their stocks of flags from importers linked to east Asian supply chains. When those ran low, rougher, handmade flags crafted in the northern neighbourhood of Cairo appeared as well.
While some flag traders have tried to spin a profit from Egypt’s burst of patriotism, many more were just trying to make up for two weeks without business, he said.
“People were selling tissues, now they sell flags. When the profit from that ends, they’ll move on to something else.”
(By Alexander Dziadosz. Editing by Alistair Lyon and Elizabeth Fullerton)
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