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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

In Brazil, You Can Buy a Beer From “Osama bin Laden”


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In Sao Paolo, Brazil, one bar-owner has turned his uncanny resemblance to a notorious terrorist in to a business opportunity. Soon after 9/11, police were alerted that the world’s most wanted man was on the lam, running a local bar. But it was just Ceará Francisco Helder Braga Fernandes, a man whose thick eyebrows, beard and facial features made him a dead ringer for the former head of Al-Qaida. Cops reportedly showed up, “laughed and posed for pictures” with Fernandes, who became a local celebrity after the incident.

He soon renamed his bar “Bin Laden’s Bar” and business boomed. The spot has reportedly become a hub for goths and metal fans. “Most weekends, drinkers will spill out onto the street in their black clothes to socialise and listen to music like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC,” writes British blogger Andrew Creelman, “and drinks are served courtesy of Francisco Fernandes (or Francisco Laden as he likes to call himself).”

But this is the only Bin Laden-themed bar in the country, if not the world, right? Wrong! Reportedly there are nearly twelve similar establishments throughout Brazil, including a bar/pool hall named the Caverna do Bin Laden (Bin Laden’s cave) near Rio de Janeiro, and another Bin Laden’s Bar, with its own lookalike bartender in Juiz de Fora to the north. There is even a sit-down restaurant called “Bin Laden and Family” (your family? or his?). Either way, I imagine the menu probably doesn’t include “freedom fries.”