The adoration of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah’s popularity has gone beyond football fans in his home country Egypt to reach all the people. His image has pervaded their daily lives, starting with murals to haircuts that take on his image. Newborns are named after him and his image adorns Ramadan products, weeks before the holy fasting month begins.
This phenomenon is attributed to his massive success on the football field and his charitable activities, polite manner and piousness beyond the pitch.
On a trip to an Egyptian market, you will come across Salah’s image on teacups, t-shirts, blankets, pillow cases and other products.
Sociologist Dr. Izzat Krayyem said that the footballer has “become a reason to take Egyptians away from their problems and crises.”
Lantern-makers were quick to latch on to Salah mania and they soon flooded the market with various lanterns that bare his image.
A merchant in Giza, Rami Toufiq said that there has been high demand for the lanterns, especially ahead of Ramadan.
The lantern is a popular decoration during the holy month that starts in mid-May, a month before the World Cup in Russia, where high hopes have been pinned on Salah to lead his national team far into the tournament.
Toufiq added that the Salah is the most popular lantern ahead of Ramadan. The wooden one comes in various sizes and at prices ranging between 80 and 350 Egyptian pounds.
Krayyem attributed Salah’s popularity to Egypt’s love of the star and merchants’ exploitation of his image to make profits.
“Ultimately, his popularity can be traced back to his high morals,” she stressed.
“His victories, Egyptian pride, morals and charitable donations have transformed him into an icon among mounting problems and crises suffered by the people,” she added.
Every Egyptian is now searching for himself in Salah, hoping to be like him or may be have their sons follow his example, she continued.
Some admirers have even converted to Islam after being inspired by his pious image.
The most striking form of adoration however has been a haircut mastered by Walid Makram in the Minya province in southern Egypt.
Makram, who calls himself “The Czar”, said that he had mastered the haircut years ago. Salah was not the only figure he shaved on the backs of his clients’ heads, but now with the Liverpool players explosion on the scene, he has dedicated his time to only that haircut.
Salah has also seen his name being labeled on certain types of dates. The “luxury” kind of dates are, depending on the region, sold for 30 pounds a kilogram. It faces fierce competition from another date, named after Arsenal’s Egyptian player Mohamed Elneny.
The Elneny dates are sold for 25 pounds, which Krayyem interpreted as an exploitation of Salah’s image before Ramadan, when the consumption of dates is popular.
Cafes in Egypt have also transformed into small fan clubs for Salah. It would be hard for anyone to find a seat when Liverpool is playing. Chants have been composed for him and renowned singer Hisham Abbas has even written a song about him.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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