There is no reason why Serafettin Ulukent shouldn’t cater to these Muslims if they want beaches where women can wear astronaut suits. The problem is that the ideology that leads them to wear these things will ultimately lead them to impose such suits on everyone else as well.
Sharia In Turkey Alert: “Boom in bikini-free holidays as Turkish women cover up,” by Nicholas Birch in the Independent, July 7:
When Serafettin Ulukent opened his holiday village in a cove on Turkey’s Aegean coast in the 1980s, his first guests were German surfers, who enjoyed the brisk winds, cool beers and chilled-out beach parties. But since he stepped in one day to help 100 conservative Turkish Muslims abandoned by a tour operator, there has been no turning back.
“The surfers were fun, but these people had real money,” he said. Mr Ulukent’s hotel became one of the first in Turkey to cater exclusively for devout Muslims — no alcohol, segregated bathing, and a pastry cook who earns an extra Â£60 a month to sing the call to prayer five times a day.
A decade on, Islamic tourism is the fastest-growing part of Turkey’s Â£10bn industry. A new Islamic hotel recently opened in Bodrum, a resort popular with British tourists where topless bathing is common.
The religious-minded AK Party is in power, but the state enshrines secularism so debates about Islam crystallise around headscarves and women’s covering. At the weekend, a group of 50 women in skimpy dresses marched in Istanbul in protest at what they see as the creeping Islamisation of Turkish society after a woman was convicted of exhibitionism for wearing “improper clothing”.
Many Turks single out the hotels as evidence of the impact of religious conservatism. Mr Ulukent, a non-practising Muslim, has had his share of fanatics. One guest was angered by music coming from the women’s bathing area. “He said it was a sin,” explained Mr Ulukent. “We told him to calm down — this is a hotel, not a morgue.”
But he thinks it is the patriarchal attitudes of macho Turkish men rather than Islamisation, which is pushing the demand for his kind of hotel. Religious women claim it is they who are punished for their views.
standing with her husband in a travel agency near Istanbul’s Taksim Square, Fatma Sarioglu says she was the one demanding a summer holiday in an Islamic hotel, not her husband. “He and the kids can swim anywhere they like,” she said. “If these sorts of places didn’t exist, I’d have to content myself with the women’s hour at the municipal pool.”…