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Ear to the Ground

Come to Egypt, but Leave Your Vices Behind

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Posted on Dec 12, 2011
Wikimedia Commons / Marek Kocjan (CC-BY-SA)

Want to see the Great Sphinx of Giza? Mind your manners, please.

Given this year’s political turmoil in Egypt, it’s not surprising that, as interim leader Kamal el-Ganzouri tearfully lamented at a news conference Sunday, tourism in the North African nation has taken a big hit.

The challenge of luring travelers back to take in Egypt’s many wonders is further complicated by the moral codes of conservative cohorts like the Muslim Brotherhood that have gained influence since the Arab Spring. Jet-setters and adventurers may seek other shores after catching wind of this trend, but that might suit some locals just fine.

AP via Google News:

Turning around the decline in tourism is key to breathing life back into the economy. But tourism presents something of an ideological conundrum for the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Nour. The two parties came in first and second, respectively, in first-round results in the voting, which is staggered and continues through January. Together, they’ve won an overwhelming majority of votes.

The Salafis, who follow the Wahhabi school of thought that predominates in Saudi Arabia, are clear in their opposition to alcohol and skimpy beachwear.

And they’re still wavering on the issues of unmarried couples sharing hotel rooms and the display of ancient Egyptian statues like fertility gods that they believe clash with conservative Islamic sensibilities. At a Salafi rally in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria recently, party loyalists covered up mermaid statues on a public fountain with cloth.

The Muslim Brotherhood, a more pragmatic political force, has sent mixed messages, reflecting perhaps the influence of some who would be more inclined to leave tourism alone for the sake of the economy.

Brotherhood and Al-Nour party leaders toured ancient monuments over the past couple of days in an attempt to show they’re supporting tourism, releasing pictures of themselves smiling and shaking hands with visitors.

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