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“Sin-Free” Egyptian Tourism?

In the Egyptian elections, the Muslim Brotherhood is winning about as many seats as most analysts expected, but with the totalitarian Salafists unexpectedly picking up an additional fourth or so of the vote, the Islamists are clocking in with a two-thirds majority. That doesn’t mean Egypt will degenerate into an Afghanistan on the Nile, but it likely won’t look much like Turkey does either.

“Tourists don’t need to drink alcohol when they come to Egypt,” said Azza al-Jarf, a female candidate with the Muslim Brotherhood’s allegedly-but-not-really “moderate” Freedom and Justice Party. “They came to see the ancient civilization, not to drink alcohol…Tourism will be at its best under Freedom and Justice.”

Some Muslim Brotherhood leaders say they want to leave tourism alone, so we’ll see how all this shakes out, but the Salafists, of course, want to go further and even impose gender segregation at holiday resorts that cater to foreigners.

I’ve been to Turkey a number of times. It’s hard to believe the president is an Islamist. Most Arab countries with secular leaders look and feel more Islamist than Turkey does with an Islamist government. Want to grab a drink in Istanbul? Go ahead. Decadent bars are literally everywhere. They aren’t there for tourists like they are in Jordan, they’re there for the locals. Pick a Turkish bar at random and you’re likely to be the only non-Turk inside who’s having a drink.

Want to wear a bikini to the beach? No problem. There are hardly fewer bikinis on the beach in Turkey than there are in Israel.

There are many things wrong with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but forcibly imposing theocratic rules on every human being who sets foot in his domain so far isn’t one of them.

We’ve heard a lot of talk recently about how the Muslim Brotherhood will supposedly follow the Turkish model of moderate Islamism if it comes to power, but I wouldn’t count on it. Egypt’s Islamists aren’t even in power yet and some of them are already talking about the imposition of theocratic rules on people who are neither Egyptian nor Muslim. Erdogan, by contrast, has been Turkey’s prime minister for almost nine years, and he hasn’t yet done this.



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