Of the many strange sights awaiting England football fans in Brazil, a Sao Paulo bar named after Osama bin Laden – and run by a Bin Laden lookalike – may be the most unexpected.
According to his tumblr page, Ceará Francisco Helder Braga Fernandes, a Sao Paulo resident since 1978, renamed his bar soon after 9/11. With a long grey beard and thick dark eyebrows, he had been a lookalike without knowing it. But when Osama bin Laden became the world’s most wanted man, appearing on TV screens around the world, one alarmed customer called the police to report he was lying low as a downtown barman.
Police arrived, laughed, and posed for pictures with him. He appeared on local TV and became a local celebrity. After he changed the name of the bar to cash in on his newfound fame, it became a hub for local goths and rockers. British blogger and Sao Paulo resident Andrew Creelman says the bar has become a home for metal fans, who spill out on to the pavement on weekends, listening to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
There are others too. Among them, in the seaside city of Niterói, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, a pool hall and bar named the Caverna do Bin Laden – Bin Laden’s Cave; and in Juiz de Fora to the north, another Bin Laden’s Bar, with a lookalike of its own behind the counter. Mac Margolis, of online news site Vocativ, searched online and found “nearly a dozen Brazilian establishments” named after the former Al-Qaida leader, “including bars, luncheonettes and one sit-down restaurant called Bin Laden and Family”.
England may well come home empty-handed, but fans looking for a memorable way to drown their sorrows will have no shortage of interesting options.
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