x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 August 2017

Trump cafe lures Bangladeshis keen for selfies, not politics

The cafe was opened in January by a self-professed fan of Donald Trump who rejects the notion that the US president is "anti Islam", saying diners at his cafe in the heart of Muslim-majority Bangladesh agree

Customers take selfies with a cutout of US president Donald Trump at the Trump Cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 12, 2017. Abir Abdullah / EPA
Customers take selfies with a cutout of US president Donald Trump at the Trump Cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 12, 2017. Abir Abdullah / EPA

A cafe in Dhaka named after Donald Trump has been attracting Bangladeshis undeterred by his controversial politics and more interested in snapping selfies with a life-size cutout of the US president.

The cafe was opened in January by a self-professed fan of Mr Trump who rejects the notion that the US president is "anti Islam", saying diners at his cafe in the heart of Muslim-majority Bangladesh agree.

"If he were anti-Muslim, he would not have visited Saudi Arabia and had a good time there," said cafe owner Shafiul Islam, adding that none of Mr Trump's decisions had affected Bangladesh's 144 million-odd Muslims.

Politics appears to be last thing on many diners' minds as they pose for photos with a cardboard cutout of the US president, placed strategically at the entrance by its 29-year-old businessman owner.

"Girls are his bigger fans. They come to take selfies with the Trump picture. Children love him too," he said, adding that more visitors snapped photos than ordered food.

The cafe serves Thai, Chinese and Indian dishes, with specials given names like the "Trump burger".

CNN is broadcast to give an extra American flavour, while the wi-fi password is "Ivanka Trump".

But it's the pull power of the man himself that is bringing in curious customers.

Nuzhat Sultana said the cafe - which Islam says will soon include wallpapered images of the Oval Office and Mr Trump's family - was "very fascinating".

"The best part is the sudden illusion when you enter the cafe and see the US president welcoming you at the door!" she said.