Egyptian flag sales boom amid protests, revelry

Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:17pm EST
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By Alexander Dziadosz

CAIRO (Reuters Life!) - Egypt's revolutionary upheaval dampened demand for the clocks, key chains, stuffed animals and other knick-knacks in Ahmed Magdy's Cairo shop, but one item has sold faster than ever -- the national flag.

The red, white and black standard has sprouted everywhere since President Hosni Mubarak was forced to quit on Friday, painted on faces and purses, tacked on walls and army tanks, and waved from farmers' tractors and the windows of luxury cars.

Sitting in his shop in the market district of Attaba, Magdy pointed to a worn cardboard box as a customer fished out dozens of miniature pennants.

"I only have ones in that size left and I'll finish them maybe tomorrow," the 28-year-old businessman said. The more popular bigger sizes were long gone.

Magdy said he had sold around 300,000 flags since protests erupted nearly three weeks ago, although at one point he and his neighbors had to close their shops and guard property from looters after police withdrew from Cairo's streets on January 28.

Many of the city's vendors turned to selling the flags after the anti-Mubarak unrest paralyzed much of the economy.

Pro-democracy demonstrators took up the banners -- which also bear a golden eagle representing Egypt's 12th-century ruler Saladin -- at early protests, waving them, wearing them as bandanas and even using them as prayer mats at a pinch.

Mubarak loyalists adopted the flag next, with thousands marching and waving them at rallies across the capital.   Continued...

<p>An Egyptian policeman is carried by opposition supporters in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 13, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem</p>