Tuesday, August 30, 2011

If true, this ain't good: The Talibanization of Egypt.

Don't know much about the source here,(The Media Line) but this seems like a sure-fire recipe for financial trouble for Egypt (as if it doesn't have enough trouble).

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."

Ditch the bikini, don the burka? That'll go over well with the Euro and American tourists. Presently, there are different beaches for foreigners and natives. Seems the MB would like to introduce significant restrictions on all beaches, and ban adult beverages in toto.

If that isn't troubling enough, this further bit has menacing shades of Taliban intolerance about it (putting it mildly):

But bathing suits are not the only worry of Egypt’s Islamists. Abd Al-Munim A-Shahhat, a spokesman for the Salafi group Dawa, has said that Egypt's world-renowned pharaonic archeology – its pyramids, Sphinx and other monuments covered with un-Islamic imagery – should also be hidden from the public eye.

"The pharaonic culture is a rotten culture," A-Shahhat told the London-based Arab daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday, saying the faces of ancient statues "should be covered with wax, since they are religiously forbidden." He likened the Egyptian relics to the idols which circled the walls of Mecca in pre-Islamic times.

Covering the sphinx and any other ancient art with wax, I suppose is less noxious than blowing them up, but that ain't saying much. And, one has to wonder how long such folks will take to seriously consider taking that destructive step. After all, wax coverings can be removed.

The story does give some justification for hope though. There are groups that are fighting these proposals.

The Islamist challenges to the tourism industry in post-revolutionary Egypt have led to the establishment of the Coalition to Support Tourism, whose members also met with Al-Katatny on Monday. The coalition, which includes a broad array of travel industry organizations and figures, argued that the real problem isn’t modesty but the absence of any strategy on the part of Egypt's new parties to protect the country's faltering tourism industry.

"Some parties want to ban tourism, or allow it while banning alcohol, certain foods and certain clothes. [A couple] renting a room will require documents proving they are married," wrote the coalition administrator on the group's Facebook page. "These proposals don’t bode well, as many of you know."

Indeed. Let's hope the forces of tolerance prevail.