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Egypt: A fast-food fast one

KFC It's been a tough few weeks for fast food.

First came a lawsuit charging that Taco Bell's beef tacos were missing a key ingredient -- namely, the beef.

Now, Egyptians are reportedly upset with the American fast-food icon of chicken, KFC.

The Los Angeles Times' Raja Abdulrahim in Cairo tried to make sense of the complicated tale Tuesday ("KFC gets a bad rap in Egypt"). 

First, the good news (for KFC): The Colonel’s chicken is popular in Egypt, where it’s quaintly known as “Kentucky meals.”

The bad news?  That’s twofold. 

One, those “Kentucky meals” cost more than many Egyptians make in a day or even a week, Abdulrahim writes. 

Meaning, I guess, that modern Egypt is akin to the mythical “San Angeles” in the 1993 movie “Demolition Man.” (This destined-to-be-classic film, you’ll recall, allowed Sylvester Stallone to showcase his comedic talents.)  Anyway, in the movie, Stallone’s character saves the leader of the city, who, in gratitude, invites him out to its finest restaurant -- Taco Bell.

I don’t recall if the beef-filling issue came up at dinner. 

More important for the latest news from Egypt, though, is that, as Abdulrahim writes, “KFC became a proxy for anger about perceived Western interference” in the anti-government protests sweeping Egypt.

That “Western interference” angle explains the consternation of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, who were upset by a rumor that they were being fed KFC.   

Anti-Americanism runs deep among Egyptians. Times columnist Ronald Brownstein recently cited a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project poll in which just “17% of Egyptians expressed a favorable view of the U.S.”

So, in a nutshell: If you’re eating American food, you’re an agent of America, and Egyptians don’t like Americans, so they won’t like you.

And I thought the plot of “Inception” was hard to follow.

It proves, I guess, the lure of the conspiracy story. In America, we have the “birthers,” with their fixation on President Obama’s birth certificate.

 In Egypt, we now have the “bucketeers.”

All I can say is, it’s a good thing Egypt didn’t have KFC when Gamal Abdel  Nasser was seizing power.  After all, Nasser was a colonel  in the army, and Colonel Sanders founded KFC -– so, well, you understand, right?


Doyle McManus: Cairo is not Tehran

The spirit of Tahrir Square

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Kentucky Grilled Chicken from KFC. Credit: Brian Bohannon / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (2)

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I realise that part of your editorial is in jest, but you're missing the point of this story entirely. As you probably know, the KFC rumor was started on state television, which is controlled by the current regime. State television has been trying to convince viewers at home that these protests are a result of meddling forces-- foreign intervention being one of them. KFC is a symbol of this supposed "intervention" -- a symbol which can easily be manipulated by the state media. It's a ridiculous rumor, and an insulting attempt to reduce the protesters' goals to a ploy to get a Kentucky meal and some money.

The anger you mentioned is not targeted at the West. The anger is rather directed toward a wrongful campaign to dismiss and demonize these protests as being a result of "Western intervention." Claims such as these are an attempt to sway the public perception of these protesters, make them appear to be traitors to their country and therefore the legitimacy of their concerns and popular support for them. This has nothing to do with Egyptians supposedly disliking Americans. (Egyptians, btw, are some of the warmest people and will be kind to you regardless of your nationality; I know this from experience)


Thanks for quoting the Pew poll...I use it regularly when posting comments about LAT articles on fundamentalist Islam. Here is a sample...

% of Muslims who want DEATH PENALTY for those leaving Islam:

Egypt (84%)

Pakistan (76%)


% of Muslims endorsing STONING TO DEATH of adulterers (98% WOMEN):

Egypt (82%)

Pakistan (82%)

When a LARGE majority of ANY country believes in a Draconian, barbaric "legal" system like Sharia Law the RIGHTS of MINORITIES like gays, feminists & FORMER ("apostate") Muslims are CRUSHED like a bug.

Anyone want to wager that the same 82-84% of Egyptians who believe in barbaric Sharia equates almost IDENTICALLY to the 83% that do NOT like the U.S.?

It's a no-brainer...



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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