A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FJP Now Says No Tourism Restrictions by Coming Egyptian Parliament

Photo From Bikya Masr
Though I posted a (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) treatment of the Islamism-and-tourism debate in Egypt over a month ago, the whole question (often shortened to "booze and bikinis") has continued to preoccupy both the international media and the Egyptian as well.

With it now clear that the Freedom and Justice Party (the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing) will have the Speakership of the new People's Assembly, and with word that tourism was down by a third for the year, a number the tourist industry says is actually too optimistic because it includes 500,000 Libyan "tourists" who were fleeing the civil war in their country,  it's hardly surprising that the Freedom and Justice Party has tried to ease concerns that Islamists will torpedo the tourist sector, responsible for more than a tenth of the Egyptian GDP.

FJP  members are saying that the incoming Parliament will make no changes that could affect tourism in the next five years (one noting that 60% of the Party's members  in Red Sea Governorate work in the tourist sector).

The Brotherhood and the FJP have so far been putting their moderate face forward. Many doubt that that is their long-term intent, but any statements undermining the tourist economy would likely be met by pressure from the Military Council, which has still not made clear just how much power the new Parliament will exercise. Continuing instability, of course, is as likely to impede tourism even more effectively than future bans on alcohol and bikinis.

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