Egypt tourism officials fear rise of morality police

Tourism advocates lodge formal complaint against previously-unheard-of 'Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice'

Bassem Abo Alabass, Wednesday 28 Dec 2011,
A guard (R) sits inside Fiela Temple in Aswan (Photo: Reuters)

The head of Egypt’s Tourism Supporters Coalition, Ehab Mousa, filed a report to the General Attorney against online statements by an anonymous group calling themselves the “Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice.”

In its first statement on Sunday, the committee, similar to one in Saudi Arabia, announced its intention to preserve the morals of Egyptians in accordance with sharia (Islamic jurisprudence).

“Tour operators have had several reservations cancelled over the last days due to this chaotic statement,” Mousa told Ahram Online.

Mousa added that such online statements do damage not only to Egypt’s economy, but its national security as well. He felt that an official should be required to keep a close watch on social networks and other online sites.

On Monday, the Salafist Nour Party’s official Facebook page denied any relation to an anonymous new group launched on Facebook, the “Committee for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice in Egypt.” The party's denial followed controversy among social media users after the anonymous Salafist group used the party logo in their first Facebook statement on Sunday, despite insisting they are independent.

“Despite El-Nour’s denial, we want the Islamists, whether Salafists or Muslim Brotherhood members, to clearly announce that there are no religious restrictions on Egypt’s tourism,” Mousa said. “It is not Iran or Saudi here.”

The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, formerly called the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Elimination of Sin, is a Saudi Arabian government bureaucracy employing
"religious police" or mutaween to enforce sharia within that Islamic nation.

The number of tourists that visited Egypt during the third quarter of 2011 dropped 24 per cent below the same period in 2010 to reach 2.8 million tourists, according to the latest data from Egypt's official statistics body.  Tourism revenues have shrunk by 26 per cent to reach $2.7 billion in the three-month period from July to September, according to the Central Bank of Egypt.

Elhamy Zayat, the head of the Egyptian Federation of Tourism, confirmed that Christmas season hotel bookings declined by an average of 60 per cent, reaching 15 per cent in Cairo and ranging between 40 and 50 per cent in Red sea resorts due to the current political unrest in Egypt.

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Skunk Mad wrote:
13-01-2012 05:26pm

Out of reality

I've been traveling to Egypt in the last years at least once a year, some years I've traveled twice to scuba diving. But if the people and Goverment of Egypt feels the need to taser, or fine me, or reeducate me as tourist, or slash my back because I drink a beer (funny that beer was invented in Egypt), or if I kiss my girlfriend, or if I wear a swimsuit to get ready to dive, do you really think that I will be spending my very hard earned money in a place like that? Do you really think that I (and all the divers I know) will be happy to visit you? Do you think that I will be eager to spend a lot of money where I am going to be officially considered a sinner or depravated whom should be executed because I am atheist? Do you really think that I should respect someone who thinks that I should be death because I think God does not exist? Religions only shine where there is no light at all.
Master wrote:
29-12-2011 10:40pm

What about the vice that ALREADY scares away tourists?

But is harassing female tourists, sex tourism, overcharging foreigners, tour guides taking comissions from shops, etc. Islamic either? Can we not acknowledge that since before the revolution there has been vice in the tourist industry and that needs to be cleaned up? I know restrictions on tourists sounds scary but personally I think the scariest stuff has been around a long time and the revolution should provide an impetus to clean it up, but instead, we have new laws issued on restriction of the amount of duty free liquor brought into the country and then the law is reversed, allegedly because it had destroyed the BLACK market for liquor!!! Who ever heard of repealing a law because the law was destroying an illegal industry? The Nour party may not have the right solutions but those running the show in the past and now have really screwed up this country by allowing lots of vice that drives away tourists.
Abu Rashid wrote:
29-12-2011 02:01pm

Egypt should stand up for its morals

I see no problem with this at all. If people want to goto the U.S for instance, then they must abide by the moral standards there. They cannot do drugs and solicit prostitutes etc. just because they might be able to back in their own country. Good on the Egyptians for having some moral backbone here and taking such an initiative. Tourists will come regardless, so long as it's done in a nice civilised fashion.
Merit wrote:
29-12-2011 04:41am

religious Police in Egypt

Egypt....are you really trying to drive yourself into bankruptcy by allowing these people to rob you of every tourist?

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