You can buy almost anything you can imagine in the markets of Marrakech. Down the twisting alleyways known as souqs you can pick up anything from traditional rugs to mobile phones, from antique jewellery to Converse trainers. Nothing, however, prepared me for what I saw when I stumbled across a small toy stall. There, in amongst the race cars and football merchandise, was the unmistakeable image of Osama Bin Laden.
Having succeeded where thousands of troops have failed in finding Bin Laden, I had to investigate further. The toy is called ‘Path Cra 911’, which I’m fairly sure is a mistyping of ‘Path Car’. It was made in China and is billed as a “Super Funny Children’s Toy”. The ‘path’ is basically a toy train track. Instead of trains, however, George W. Bush chases Osama around the circuit endlessly, or until he falls over. Bush is in a battery-powered tank complete with machine gun, Bin Laden is on a skateboard.
According to the packaging the toy is aimed at children “ages 3 and up” but I suppose it’s really aimed as much at incredulous travellers like me who are happy to part with 40 dirhams (just over £3) for something you’ll never find in Toys’R’Us. I asked a few locals what they thought of it, and one savvy shopkeeper told me it was worth hanging onto. “Don’t take it out of the plastic, you’ll get a good price for that”, he told me. Others gave more of an insight into how the ‘War on Terror’ has been viewed from a part of the Islamic world safely distanced from the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. They thought the toy was funny, but added “Those two (Bush and Bin Laden) are too crazy, they have both got us into a bad situation in the world.” Another added, without prompting, “Blair as well. Those three together caused the bad situation.”
I found out that the toy is a few years old, and of course since it was produced one of its characters has left the world stage. Moroccans who mistook me for American were quick to praise Bush’s replacement, the “great man” Obama. However, as he continues to send more and more troops to Afghanistan, Obama must feel like he’s trapped in a similar loop, endlessly chasing the elusive Bin Laden while America’s War on Terror comes off the rails.
Originally published by Ctrl.Alt.Shift.