Der heisse Scheiß in Ägypten derzeit: Spongebob Schwammkopf. Nein, doch, wirklich: Da unten kriegt man von Kopftüchern bis Unnerbuxen alles, inklusive einer Ansage im Fernsehen „to all the violent girls who do karate and to SpongeBob’s feminine eyelashes“:
The fictional marine sponge, historically found on kids' cartoon channel Nickelodeon, is now the ubiquitous face of Egyptian tat – printed on everything from hijabs to boxer shorts, complete with spelling mistakes. (In Egypt, where western Bs are often confused with Ps, SpongeBob sometimes becomes a variant of SpongePop.) Name something cheap and tacky, and chances are that someone in Egypt can sell you a Spongified version.
His appearances have become so frequent that a blog – SpongeBob on the Nile – now documents his Egyptian adventures. Vice magazine was even forced to ponder: "Is SpongeBob SquarePants the New Che Guevara?".
The explosion started about a year ago, SpongeBob on the Nile's co-founder reckons. "I remember coming back in June 2012," says Elisabeth Jaquette, a longtime Cairo resident who had returned from a year in America, "and walking through Tahrir Square, where you used to see T-shirts that said 'Egypt' and 'Revolution'. But that June, half the T-shirts were just SpongeBob."