Osama gun: Toy guns in the big, bad world

Published: August 13, 2013

Demand surges for a new toy gun named after Osama bin Laden. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

Demand surges for a new 
toy gun named after 
Osama bin Laden. Demand surges for a new 
toy gun named after 
Osama bin Laden. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD
KARACHI: 

US special forces killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden over two years ago – but the influence of the global terror icon refuses to die down.

This Eid, a new toy gun was introduced into the markets in Karachi and it sold like hot cakes. The gun was named after Bin Laden.

“This is Osama gun. It became instantly popular among children,” a dealer in downtown Paposh Nagar said, pointing to a Kalashnikov-like toy gun. “I bought 500 Osama guns and they all sold out on the first day of Eid. And the demand is still there.”

According to the dealer, while the price of a toy gun ranges from Rs200 to Rs2,000, the Osama gun has a fixed price of Rs450.

Warped psyche

Gaining commercial benefit from men ‘demonised by the West’ has long been a practice in the Muslim world. Saddam Hussain, Osama bin Laden and Colonel Qaddafi are still considered heroes by many.

During the Gulf war, many children born were named Saddam, and his posters spread across the Iraqi landscape like wildfire. Today, on the streets of Karachi, children are playing their favourite game – chor (thief) police – with Osama’s gun.

According to Dr Hyder Abbas Rizvi, the former chairman of Karachi University’s department of psychology, commercial entities are benefitting from the sentiments of the general public by naming the toy gun after Osama bin Laden.

“Whether the death of Osama was [more] propaganda or [more] reality, I don’t know,” says Rizvi. “But he is considered a hero in our society.”

Rizvi adds that the wanted man’s capture and death was also dramatised by the West, in the famous film Zero Dark Thirty. The movie, and ensuing video games, made soaring profits.

Pens over guns

Rizvi reinforces how linking the name to the gun has further ingrained Osama bin Laden’s character into the consciousness of children.

“This move benefits those who are spreading bin Laden’s and al Qaeda’s ideology in our country the most,” he explains. “It is lethal for our society. First, the kids will play with toy guns. Then, when they get older, they will play with real guns.”

Nangyal Yousufzai, a Pushto poet who has been working against the toy gun culture rampant across the country, agrees with Rizvi.

“Those who have introduced this gun are followers of extremism. They are promoting their ideology by promoting bin Laden’s name among children,” he states firmly.

Yousafzai’s NGO, Hunar Kor, sports the motto ‘say no to toy weapons’.

“We should save our children from the gun culture, which is one of the main reasons for the spread of terrorism in the region,” says Yousufzai. “If we introduce our children to books and pens, we can counter extremism. We can nurture a good generation.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2013.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (10)

  • Silent Observer
    Aug 13, 2013 - 9:38AM

    Only one good thing that Rehman Malik was to ban the selling of toy guns. Parents need to understand that this type of toys only help to pollute the minds of young generation.

    Recommend

  • Realist
    Aug 13, 2013 - 10:16AM

    @Silent Observer:

    Right. And seeing them on television, daily life and internet does not. May be we should close our eyes from them as well?

    Recommend

  • Fawad Sharif
    Aug 13, 2013 - 10:58AM

    Actually we don’t want to eradicate Talibanization, If we as a society want to eradicate Talibanization then everyone around should discourage these toy weapons may they be a common man or the shopkeeper in specific.

    Recommend

  • Faizan
    Aug 13, 2013 - 12:45PM

    @ Realist:
    Seeing on tv is different from making it something children enjoy. Seeing it on TV doesn’t mean much to children but making it something that’s fun to them will ingrain it in their impressionable minds much much faster than anything possible.

    Recommend

  • FYI
    Aug 13, 2013 - 1:28PM

    I had the habit of preserving my toys and today i still have “toy guns” my uncles brought me as a gift from US and gulf. Strange, i didnt become a terrorist and i grew up in a age whre afghan jihad calls were openly made from loudspeakers of all masajids :p

    Recommend

  • Aug 13, 2013 - 2:44PM

    The Govt. should take immidate notice of such issue and ban such act in the society.

    Recommend

  • Aug 13, 2013 - 3:10PM

    Guys i have been playing with this Toy since my childhood. I am 22 now so nothing to worry about as this is not a new item in market. Moreover we should learn it in Real to fight against forces that are against Pakistan

    Recommend

  • Silent Observer
    Aug 13, 2013 - 4:28PM

    @ realist

    Did you ever thought why guns have become such a common part of our society? Parents are more responsible to give direction to their children thoughts. An average of 20 people die everyday in this city due to target killing. We should condemn the toy guns,movies and everything that pollute the mind of kids.

    Recommend

  • Maqbool
    Aug 13, 2013 - 4:56PM

    All of these kinds of guns should be banned as these are not only dangerous for our children future; children some time seriously hurt each other too.

    However banning something from the government usually does not effect. Parents should discourage and educate there children not to buy these ones.

    Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Aug 13, 2013 - 6:31PM

    Should Water guns be banned across the World, they are shaped like fighting guns. Its common to see water guns in the toy shops of London.

    Recommend

More in Pakistan