An Iranian pimp dubbed "39" has been fingered as the possible cause of a dramatic slump in car sales in the Afghan capital Kabul, Reuters reports.
The Iranian in question apparently had a "flashy" motor whose number plate contained the number 39. This became his nickname and subsequently a signifier for "pimp".
The term recently spread to "deeply conservative" Afghanistan, and buyers are refusing to have anything to do with vehicles bearing the shameful digits. This is a bit of a problem since the latest five-number sequence on licence plates begins with "39".
Those unfortunate enough to have bought a new pimpmobile before the terrible truth was revealed are having a hard time of it. Victim Mohammad Ashraf lamented: "Now even little kids say 'look, there goes the 39'. This car is a bad luck, I can't take my family out in it."
Car dealer Mohammad Jawed, who stumped $10,000 for a tainted Toyota Corolla a few months back, reckons it's glued to the parking lot for the foreseeable future. He said: "No one wants to buy this car anymore, even though I would sell it now for $6,000."
Fellow trader Najibullah Amiri, who's head of Kabul's union of car dealers, believes bent coppers may have encouraged the Persian pimp rumour, since "officials at the police traffic department charge buyers between $200 and $500 to change a '39' number plate for a new car to something less offensive".
He insisted: "It is a scheme by the police traffic department to earn money from buyers."
Akbar Khan, deputy chief exec of Kabul's Traffic Police, rejected the claim. He blamed the good burghers of the "auto import hub" city of Herat, close to the Iranian border, for inventing the 39 tale, which he dismissed as "nonsense". ®