Thursday, August 25, 2011

Muslim Brotherhood to regulate Sunbathing & Tourism in Egypt

The Arab Spring has arrived in full force, and, with it, comes the inevitable taste of freedom - ahem.....
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," said Hani Henry, a psychology professor at the American University in Cairo. "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."...

Al-Katatny said that his party had already set up a subcommittee to investigate the issue of incoming tourism to Egypt and planned to amend legislation following the upcoming parliamentary elections...
This is the same Katatny who, earlier this year stated that the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party would not try to impose a religious state on the country.

"We reject the religious state," said Katatny.

The proposed bans and regulations prompted the administrator of Egypt's newly established 'Coalition to Support Tourism' to write on his Facebook page: "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, These proposals don’t bode well, as many of you know."...

Islamists have never been enamored of foreign tourism, and, before they were crushed by the Mubarak regime, foreign visitors were often targeted for killings. Close to 60 Western tourists were killed by Islamist terrorists in the southern city of Luxor in 1997. Tourists were also attacked in bombings in the Sinai resorts of Taba, Sharm Al-Sheikh and Dahab in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration has indicated that it would be willing to open a dialog with the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt, that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in June. “And we welcome, therefore, dialog with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us.”

The words "peaceful and committed to nonviolence" would appear to be antithetical to the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine.

But in truth, the Obama administration had also indicated on a number of occasions that it would be willing to talk with the Iranian and Syrian regimes, despite their ongoing commitment to violence and terror. Hence, with regards to the Muslim Brotherhood, I believe the Secretary of State was simply misspeaking, and that, despite the Brotherhood's espousal of violence and terror, it will, nevertheless, have a receptive ear in the White House and be welcomed with open arms by the Obama administration.