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SpongeBob SquarePants Takes Over Egypt

In the nearly three years since Egypt's revolution, SpongeBob SquarePants has popped up on everything from T-shirts to tissue boxes to political parades.

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The singer Hamada Helal was so enthralled with SpongeBob that he even made this gem of a song in his honor. (It’s in Arabic, but the images transcend any language barrier.)

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Some say that the consumer obsession is a coping mechanism: Egyptians, facing seemingly unending political and economic unrest, can find solace in the Sponge’s happy-go-lucky look.

Others attribute the phenomenon to the influx of imported goods into the Egyptian market. Ramadan lanterns, or fanoos, were once a handmade item: now Chinese-made lanterns with SpongeBob are reportedly the most popular on the market.

Not everyone is happy. This Salafi preacher called out SpongeBob for having a gender-bending persona. Liberal satirist Bassem Youssef cited the SpongeBob phenomenon as an example of the disturbing dearth of Egyptian children’s songs and books.

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SpongeBob was even seen on stage at a pro-Morsi sit-in that security forces violently dispersed on August 14.

Whether a sign of consumer culture, political sentiments, or just the universal attractiveness of a smiley sponge in short shorts, SpongeBob SquarePants should watch his back. Word on the street is that the Smurfs are taking over next.


Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor

Contact Miriam Berger at

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