With the Egyptian economy already worsening since the revolution began in January, Muslim Brotherhood operatives are demanding stricter regulations on behavior and dress that could damage the country's tourism industry.
The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which functions as the Brotherhood's political wing, wants to ban alcohol consumption on Egyptian streets and ban bikinis on the beach.
"Beach tourism must take the values and norms of our societies into account," FJP Secretary-General Muhammad Saad al-Katatny told Egyptian tourism officials Monday. "We must place regulations on tourists wishing to visit Egypt, which we will announce in advance."
For their part, Egyptian Salafists (who advocate a form of Islamism more extreme than that practiced by the Brotherhood) aren't just troubled by alcohol and bikinis. Abd al-Munim A-Shahhat, a spokesman for the Salafist group Dawa, said that the Egyptian pyramids, the sphinx and other monuments should be covered up with wax because they are "religiously forbidden."
Likening these relics to idols covering the walls of Mecca in pre-Islamic times, A-Shahhat said Wednesday that "The pharaonic culture is a rotten culture."
These comments follow a spate of dismal economic news including forecasts that Egypt's economy will contract by 3.3 percent this year, rather than the 2.5 percent estimated in February following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
According to EFG-Hermes Holding SAE, the biggest publicly traded investment bank in Egypt, the country's economy contracted at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, tourism revenue is projected to decline from $11.6 billion in 2009-10 to $10 billion in the fiscal year that began July 1.
Samy Mahmoud, a senior Egyptian tourism official, said no country seeking to promote tourism would impose restrictions such as a bikini ban. Mahmoud suggested the alcohol consumption curbs sought by the Islamists were anathema to potential Arab visitors. "Ninety-five percent of Arab tourists drink alcohol," he said.
The Brotherhood should create alternative jobs, he said, to support the people who would lose their jobs if the Islamists get their way. There are 1.8 million people working in the country's tourism industry, along with another 2.8 million people whose jobs are indirectly supported by tourism.
Some Egyptians believe the Brotherhood is taking the country down a dark road.
"This is how thinks began in Iran," Hani Henry, a psychology professor at the American University in Cairo, told The Media Line. "The moderate youth wanted to implement changes, but the mullahs hijacked the revolution. The same thing is happening now in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood."