Tiny minority of extremists update: if there weren’t a market for these things, they wouldn’t be manufactured. From Richard S. Ehrlich in AsiaTimes, with thanks to EPG:
BANGKOK – The Osama bin Laden cigarette lighter is adorned with his raised, chrome portrait, an embossed “9-11”, sketches of the New York World Trade Center, an approaching airplane, and a big red splotch. When you flick the sleek, metal lighter open, a light-emitting diode illuminates the splotch so it glows bright red on one of the buildings, emphasizing the site of the first crash. Loud, computerized music beeps out a loop of Mozart.
Made in China – as are many of the latest gimmicky Osama bin Laden souvenirs – the butane lighter recently showed up in Cambodia.
“I paid US$2 for it, in the old Soviet market in Phnom Penh,” a Canadian traveler, who asked not to be identified, said in an interview after visiting the Cambodian capital. “One man’s catastrophe is another man’s cheesy souvenir,” he said. “I bought three, for the novelty. I’ll give them to people who would appreciate the irony that they even exist. When you open it, it plays a classical tune. It’s quite freaky, eh?”
The lighter came boxed with a gold-and-black cigarette holder, and was manufactured by Boerda Smoking Set Co Ltd. An Internet search indicated the Chinese company makes various lighters for domestic use and export.
In a crammed, middle-class shopping mall in Bangkok, other bin Laden souvenirs are also currently on sale. A Thai shop selling lava lamps, magic tricks and embarrassing gifts to surprise recipients, offers a small, inexpensive hand puppet of bin Laden wearing boxing gloves. Stick your fingers inside and wiggle them, and little Osama punches the air.
On Bangkok’s popular Khao San Road, where thousands of backpackers flock to cheap hotels, restaurants, discos and an avant garde street market, stalls sell droopy, rubbery bin Laden masks alongside other scary faces.
The souvenirs appear to be made not by bin Laden supporters, but by profit-seeking factories that have slapped bin Laden’s visage, and symbols of his international Islamist war, onto existing generic toys and other items in a crass effort to reach a fresh demographic of buyers.