Scud Mania

      Amman, Jordan--When the first Scud missile crashed into Tel Aviv three weeks ago, a secondary boom sounded at Fouad al-Afghani's souvenir shop.

      Now, at one end of a makeshift assembly line, Mr. al-Afghani's cousin cuts pieces of zinc in the shape of tiny missiles. Another cousin polishes and cleans the metal. A third paints the flag of Iraq on the projectile's tiny warhead. The finished product, fitted with a pin or key chain, is a miniature Scud missile engraved with the words "Allahu Akbar"-God is Greatest.

      "Scuds are the best thing for business since the intifada," says Mr. al-Afghani, who molded hands clutching stones to commemorate the Palestinian uprising. When demand for these slumped, he fell back on worry beads and olive-wood figurines of Bedouin. Now, scales of Scud souvenirs are so brisk that the al-Afghani family is working 16 hours a day to keep up with orders for everything from buttons to wall hangings adorned with the Iraqi weapon.

      "Brooches are the most popular, because people can wear them close to their heart," he says.

Fashion Craze

      Scud mania is breaking out all over Jordan, and in other nations where Saddam Hussein and his missiles have become symbols of Arab strength and pride. On the mean streets of Lebanon, young militiamen have adopted "Scud" as a nom de guerre, and they also use the word as a term of respect, roughly equivalent to an American youth saying "he's bad".

      The Iraqi president is revered as Abu Scud-Father of the Scud. (Foster father, actually: The missile is made by the Soviets and modified by Iraqi technicians.)

      In Algeria last week, thousands of Islamic fundamentalists carried cardboard models of Scuds in a march supporting Iraq's "holy war." Algerian youths also have changed the traditional Arabic greeting-salaam aleikum, peace be with you-to Saddam aleikum- Saddam be with you.

      The craze may just be the beginning. Scud songs haven't yet rocketed to the top of Arab charts, but at the Raouf Center music store in Amman, youths besiege the counter in search of a new album of Scud songs recorded by a local Palestinian band. They groan when Maklouf Mohammed, the sales assistant, tells them they will have to wait two more weeks. As consolation, he offers a collection of songs about the Iraqi president, including "Saddam the Arab" and "Our Friend Saddam."

      "We have sold 200 copies of this" since the war, he says. "Nobody wants Michael Jackson any more."

Coming Soon: The Scud Sub

      Across town, at the Qucik Meal Restaurant, Mahmoud Ibrahim plans to honor Iraq with a "Saddam Burger" or torpedo shaped "Scud Sandwich," a sort fo Arabic version of the American hero or submarine.

      Mouther Khouri and Mahi Abu Kaf, crafted a two-foot long missile made of sponge cake, with marzipan icing and two phrases squiggled on top : "Happy Birthday" and "Al Hussein," the name Iraq has given to its improved version of the Soviet Scud.

      When Nasser Lattouf turned 30 last week, his cake came with an eight inch edible Scud in place of candles. Midway through the party came news that Iraq had lobbed another salvo of real Scuds into Tel Aviv. "I thought, 'What a nice birthday present from Saddam,'" says the Palestinian pharmacist.

      Even in the hushed corridors of Al Amal Maternity Hospital Scud-mania is having an impact, says obstetrician Mahmud Taher. Noting that Iraq launched two Scuds the previous evening, he says, "So this morning we should have at least two Saddams." One of them is already sleeping soundly in a blue crib in the hospital nursery. His mother, 30 year old Shireen Mosuli, says she decided on the day of the U.S. attack on Iraq to name her baby Saddam if she had a boy.

      Taken from the Wall Street Journal "Scud Mania Rages In Jordan as Symbol of Arab Militancy" by Geraldine Brooks and Tony Horwitz"



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