“I can’t stand violence… but this was great for business,” says Francisco Elder Braga Fernandes, a man famous in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for being the proprietor of “Bar do Bin Laden,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Fernandes is one of a number of Brazilians capitalizing on the bizarrely popular trend of Osama bin Laden-themed bars.
According to Fusion, Fernandes is at the forefront of a trend prompted by his own bizarre likeness to the former Al Qaeda leader. He said his neighbors had begun to call the police upon seeing him in town, believing that bin Laden himself had taken up a quiet life in Sao Paolo. The police, Fernandes noted, were amused and took pictures with him. That’s when he realized that he could turn his bar into a goldmine by having the bar’s atmosphere reflect his similarities to one of the world’s most hated men.
Fernandes runs the Tumblr account BinLaden.Tumblr.com, where he posts photos with “fans” who visit the bar. He also runs a contest called “Miss bin Laden,” a beauty pageant of sorts in which women are encouraged to send photographs of themselves in the bar, with Fernandes’s favorite winning:
A closer look at this idea on Vocativ found “nearly a dozen Brazilian establishments named after Al Qaeda’s former terrorist-in-chief, including bars, luncheonettes, and one sit-down restaurant called “Bin Laden and Family.” One bar named after bin Laden resulted from a threat from college students, who said they would not go to the then-unnamed bar if it was not named after bin Laden. The owners obliged.
Vocativ also got quite the incendiary comment from Fernandes, who defended bin Laden: “I don’t know much about his life, but I believe he was a good and very religious man, who didn’t kill anyone himself.” There is no indication that Fernandes is aware of how outrageous to the fundamentals of radical Islam someone masquerading as a religious leader selling alcohol in Latin America would be.
The bars are receiving increasing attention as the world looks onto Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, hosted in the South American nation. The Brazilian government has been working overtime to hide a number of embarrassing situations in the area– from cleaning out impoverished “favela” neighborhoods to attempting to assuage the unrest felt in many of the poorer sectors of Brazil’s population who are seeing themselves forced to move out of areas the nation hopes to renovate for the global visitors. No word on whether the Brazilian government plans any attempts to hide from the international community this bizarre bar trend that is likely to offended the millions related to the victims of bin Laden and Al Qaeda worldwide.