Friday, January 6, 2012

Egypt: bikini battle bothers tourists

With the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists garnering over 60% of the votes for the new government, tourism has taken a huge hit.  There is an ongoing scuffle over whether bikinis and alcohol will be allowed on the beaches of Egypt.  Islam seems to be winning, despite the mask of "moderation" presented by the MB.  Just look at the plight of Christians and how they have been persecuted to the point of being driven out of their historical homeland.

Why visit Egypt when you can watch a travel show or DVD, while wearing a bikini and drinking a cold adult beverage.

From The Sydney Morning Herald January 5

Battle over bikinis looms for Egyptian tourism

On a barren hill in Sharm el-Sheikh, not far from the famous beach resorts with their bikini-clad patrons, Islamist activist Ahmed Saber ponders the fate of revealing swimwear if his party comes to power.

The swimsuit has been at the centre of a growing debate over the Islamists' plans for tourism, one of Egypt's key currency earners.

Speaking at a voting station, Saber seeks to present a liberal outline of his party's position on the bikini. "You're free to do as you please as long as you don't harm me," he says.

The parameters for what constitutes "harm" to a Muslim is as wide as the Grand Canyon.  A Christian shadow falling on a Muslim can be seen as "harm."  Freedom is only as good as the principles which guide it's followers.

The Sharm el-Sheikh tour guide then goes on to explain that: "Some sights might harm me. For example, women wearing bikinis on the street. There are special places for bikinis".

After decades of repression by a secular police state, the Muslim Brotherhood grouping finds itself fending off questions about its plans for beach resort mainstays like bikinis and alcohol - considered unIslamic by some.

With ultra-conservatives poised to play a big role in parliament during an economic crisis, the Islamists' thoughts on what tourists may wear or drink are being scrutinised amid fears they will harm the country's vital tourism industry.

The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, poised to win the most votes in the country's first election since president Hosni Mubarak's February overthrow, has promised it would not hurt tourism.

But some of its candidates have exacerbated the fears with pledges to ban alcohol or bikinis on beaches, forcing their leaders to backtrack.

Essam al-Erian, the party's vice president, said the FJP would no longer comment on bikinis. "It's a ridiculous question. Tourism can't be considered in terms of bikinis or such matters," he said.

The party's candidate in Sharm el-Sheikh, Ahmed Qassim, also appeared wearied by the topic. He said he has repeatedly assured voters the Islamists would encourage tourism.

"We are with tourism, and we are not against personal freedoms," he said.

Except when it harms Muslim sensibilities.

Read it all

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