A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Starbucks Protest in Egypt

In a city where coffeehouses were already the male-bonding hangout centuries before the city of Seattle was founded, it's hard for me to understand why Cairo needs Starbucks at all (your coals to Newcastle, refrigerators to Eskimos sort of thing). Though perhaps it's not a "need" thing at all, but another case of Cairo elites wanting to spend a lot more for their coffee in order to avoid having to rub elbows with galabiyya-clad, shisha-smoking, tawla-playing abna' al-balad.

But to my point here: there has been a Starbucks protest in Cairo. Zeinobia here. Sarah Carr has a Flickr Stream here.

There have long been claims that the founder of Starbucks supports Israel, and that is clearly in play here from the protest signs, though that story is a hoax originating in failed satire, and as Zeinobia notes, Starbucks no longer even operates in Israel (though it closed its six stores for business reasons, not politics.)

I suspect for many of the protestors the facts don't matter. I'm sure they believe the rumors, but I suspect that Starbucks has also now become what McDonalds has long been, a symbol of America and of Globalization.

And an interesting side point: note the Turkish flags at the demonstration. Israel may have done more for Turkish-Arab friendship than anyone since the fall of the Ottomans.

1 comment:

Thats What I said...

could also be directed at the Kuwaiti Franchise owner