Egyptian journalist Mohamed abd al-Raouf told me the entire tourism industry in his country is likely to resist the Muslim Brotherhood because Islamism in anything but its weakest possible form will destroy business. The AKP hasn’t harmed tourism in Turkey, but it hasn’t placed a ban on alcohol, covered up women, or done much of anything, really, that makes vacationers think of the Saudis, the Iranian regime, or the Taliban. The Muslim Brotherhood, though, just announced it wants to regulate the behavior of foreign tourists who visit beach resorts like Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh.
“Beach tourism,” said Mohamed Saad al-Katatny from the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, “must take the values and norms of our society into account. We must place regulations on tourists wishing to visit Egypt, which we will announce in advance.”
He’s proposing a law that would ban the wearing of shorts and bikinis on Egypt’s beaches. Tourists should, of course, respect the local sensibilities in the places they visit. Conservative dress codes, though, are set aside on beaches all over the world, even in Muslim countries. That, however, is too much for al-Katatny. For him, the code must be enforced everywhere and by law.
Just like authoritarian nanny staters in the United States (only with a theocratic twist and a much heavier hand), the regulations will not stop at just one if the Brotherhood gets its way. The regulations will grow in number and severity if the Islamists are not checked by other Egyptians or by limitations placed on the state. The tourism industry there is enormous, though, and as my Egyptian colleague said, it will surely resist.