Egypt’s Brotherhood declares war on the bikini
Sunbathing in Alexandria may soon be a thing of the past, at least if some Egyptian Islamist politicians have their way.
Egypt’s tourism industry has suffered a severe blow since the outburst of anti-regime demonstrations in January. But that did not stop the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, from demanding stricter regulations over what tourists can do and wear while visiting the country. The party is urging officials to ban skimpy swimwear and the consumption of alcohol on Egyptian streets.
“Beach tourism must take the values and norms of our society into account,” Muhammad Saad Al-Katatny, secretary-general of Freedom and Justice, told Egyptian tourism officials on Monday. “We must place regulations on tourists wishing to visit Egypt, which we will announce in advance.”
The call for new strictures on tourists comes as Egypt debates the role of Islam in the post-Mubarak era. Freedom and Justice is competing in elections scheduled for this autumn for parliament and opinion polls show a majority of Egyptians favor a greater use of Islamic law and mores. But a vocal minority worries that Egypt risks becoming an Islamic republic.
“This is how things began in Iran,” Hani Henry, a psychology professor at the American University in Cairo, told The Media Line. “The moderate youth wanted to implement changes, but the Mullah’s hijacked the revolution. The same thing is now happening here in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood. It makes me sick to my stomach.”
Along with Suez Canal tolls and energy exports, tourism is a major source of foreign exchange for Egypt. But with protests, strikes, and continued violence in the cities and Sinai Peninsula months after President Husni Mubarak was forced to step down, foreigners have hesitated to visit the country, which offers some of the world’s most spectacular antiquities as well as beaches and scuba diving.
Naturally, the fever swamp blames Obama for this alarming state of affairs.