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Egypt’s bikini vs. burkini battle heats up

In Egypt, swimming in resorts while wearing a burkini is a controversial issue. (File photo)
CAIRO: Summertime is when the debate on whether burkinis are allowed in Egyptian resorts heats up.
In Egypt, where many women don the Islamic headscarf, swimming in privately owned resorts while wearing a full-body swimsuit is a controversial topic.
This summer, the government reversed its decision to allow women in pools and on beaches to wear burkinis, authorizing resorts to decide whether to ban the conservative swimwear.
Tourism Ministry official Ali Ghoneim expressed concern that the debate could have negative implications for the tourism industry.
“Egyptian resorts respect the culture of all its guests as long as it doesn’t harm others,” he told Arab News.
After some hotels began turning away burkini-wearing guests from pools and beaches, the ministry stepped in to allow the swimwear, saying: “Burkinis are allowed as long as they are made of the same material as bikinis.”
But in less than 24 hours it backtracked, saying it is legal for resorts to decide for themselves depending on “the type of tourists they receive,” Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported.
Many hijab-wearing women have expressed anger over the reversal, saying the authorities should be protecting personal freedoms as per the law.
Those against the policy say it violates the constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on sect, gender, religion or belief.
Others believe the issue is about money, not politics. “The power to lift the burkini ban doesn’t lie with the government,” wrote one Facebook user.
“Like everything else in Egypt, it lies in money. Hotels will only lift the burkini ban if you, the customer, refuse to go to their establishment because of their discriminatory rules.”

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