During the fasting period of Ramadan, serving alcohol to the citizens of the Muslim country of Egypt has been banned for many years, but the Egyptian Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour has decided that the alcohol ban will be extended beyond Ramadan. Alcohol will be banned during all major Islamic holidays.
The alcohol ban will now go beyond the fasting month of Ramadan. It will apply to four other days during the year including the Islamic New Year, the holiday commemorating the Israa and Me'rag, Prophet Mohamed's birthday and the day of Arafa., according to Ahram Online.
According to Egypt's news agency Mena, Abdel-Nour made the decision to ban alcohol during these days out of respect for "the feelings of Muslims."
If Egyptian bars, restaurants, nightclubs, or hotels serve alcohol on these holy days, they will face severe legal sanctions such as suspension.
Upon the election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as president, there was some speculation that Islamist political forces would try to ban alcohol altogether.
However there are fears that the alcohol ban would keep tourists from coming to the country, which would hit the economy hard as it depends heavily on tourism. The country does not want to restrict tourists as tourism makes up 12 percent of the country's GDP.
"Egypt lives on tourism. I think Mursi wants to Islamise tourism in the long run, but for the next few years he won't do anything because people need to eat," business owner Waleed told Reuters.
The tourism industry decided not to completely ban alcohol. A ban on bikinis will also not be enforced as well as the plan to separate beaches into male and female section.
"Turkey is also a Muslim state. However there is no such beach division there. Why should it exist in Egypt?," the Russian daily quoted the diplomat as saying.