An Egyptian travel agency is seemingly capitalizing on Egypt's shift towards Sharia law with a new proposal: sharia tourism!
The company, Cairo-based Shouq Travel, actually calls the vacations "halal," meaning they are acceptable by Islamic law, but the entire concept has been dubbed "sharia tourism" by a number of sites.
The company's website advertises: "Shouq Travel [provides destinations] to all Muslim families are committed to 'Sharia,' and includes hotels [that] do not provide alcohol, [and] all swimming pools, and health facilities [separate] men and women..."
According to Al-Arabiya, female visitors are required to wear modest clothes during their stay, and must be accompanied by a first-degree relative.
The photos are so unusual that it wouldn't be surprising if they were photoshopped, but the company and the vacations appear to be real. There is a website in English and Arabic, a Facebook page with roughly 20 albums, even a Twitter handle. Therefore, if the photos are photoshopped, it appears to have been done by the company.
Egypt, a country which has witnessed Islamists gain political momentum since the overthrow of the former regime in the 2011 mass uprising, has seen an influx of Islam-inspired projects.
A niqab-only TV channel in Egypt recently launched on the first day of the month of Ramadan earlier in July, employs only women in niqab, even for behind-the-camera jobs.
But the tourism industry has boomed for Muslim travel worldwide.
From halal spas to prayer rooms at airport terminals, the global tourism industry is gearing up for a projected boom in Muslim travel over the next decade, experts say.
Spending by Muslim tourists is growing faster than the global rate and is forecast to reach $192 billion a year by 2020, up from $126 billion in 2011, according to a study conducted in 47 countries by Singapore-based halal travel specialist Crescentrating, along with DinarStandard, a U.S.-based firm that tracks the Muslim lifestyle market.
One commenter wrote of the above photo: "Wow it looks like mom is having a great time!" but another said: "The woman in the photo will surely drown, if she falls into the water."
Recent reports indicate that "moral vigilantism" is on the rise in Egypt, however, with the shift towards Sharia.
The Los Angeles Times wrote Sunday:
An engineering student [was] killed for walking with his fiancee by men reportedly linked to a group called the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Women are harassed for not wearing veils, owners of liquor stores say they’re being threatened, and fundamentalists are calling for sex segregation on buses and in workplaces.
Sheik Mustafa Albadry, who preaches on the outskirts of Cairo, explained that, with the high unemployment rate, young Egyptians are worried they have offended God.
“They’re more willing to go to mosques and seek advice from religious scholars [than before]…But a lot of religious scholars are not necessarily angels and they have not always interpreted wisely.”
Do you think sharia tourism will add a measure of levity to Egypt's shift towards Islamic law, or is it failed from the start?
(H/T: Jihad Watch)