News / Europe

Turkish Beach Resorts Cater to Pious Muslims

A woman sunbathes on a near-deserted deck as luxury boats are seen anchored off the beach front of a hotel in Golturkbuku, near the resort town of Bodrum on the southwest Aegean coast of Turkey, July 17, 2007. A woman sunbathes on a near-deserted deck as luxury boats are seen anchored off the beach front of a hotel in Golturkbuku, near the resort town of Bodrum on the southwest Aegean coast of Turkey, July 17, 2007.
x
A woman sunbathes on a near-deserted deck as luxury boats are seen anchored off the beach front of a hotel in Golturkbuku, near the resort town of Bodrum on the southwest Aegean coast of Turkey, July 17, 2007.
A woman sunbathes on a near-deserted deck as luxury boats are seen anchored off the beach front of a hotel in Golturkbuku, near the resort town of Bodrum on the southwest Aegean coast of Turkey, July 17, 2007.
TEXT SIZE - +
Dorian Jones
— During this Islamic holiday season of Eid, many Turks are booking a new kind of accommodation: an Islamic, or Halal Hotel. The popular Bodrum resort has begun catering to the country's increasingly affluent pious-Muslim  population.

At first glance the Sultan Beach Hotel near the Turkish resort of Bodrum appears like any other seaside hotel with its swimming pool, sun chairs, and people sipping cool drinks. But on closer examination there are no women to be seen by the pool and not a drop of alcohol. The hotel is strictly run in accordance with the Islamic faith.

Owner Ali Bicakci prefers the word "alternative" over "Islamic" when describing his hotel.  He says they are meeting a new need.

Whatever kind of holiday you want to have there are always options in the tourism sector, he says. We wanted to provide an alternative concept as there is the increasing need of the conservative people to have holidays. He says they have started with a three-star hotel, but are planning a five-star one.

The Aegean Sea resort is a popular holiday destination for Turks. It is synonymous for wild parties and drinking. "Bedroom Bodrum" is a common saying among the million or so annual visitors.  

But the religious setting offered by the Sultan Beach hotel, with its separate pool for women, as well as facilities for prayer, and a strict ban on alcohol, appears to be a winning formula for the guests.

Models present swimwear for Muslim women by Malaysian designer Aktif Bestari at the Islamic Fashion Festival, November 3, 2010.Models present swimwear for Muslim women by Malaysian designer Aktif Bestari at the Islamic Fashion Festival, November 3, 2010.
x
Models present swimwear for Muslim women by Malaysian designer Aktif Bestari at the Islamic Fashion Festival, November 3, 2010.
Models present swimwear for Muslim women by Malaysian designer Aktif Bestari at the Islamic Fashion Festival, November 3, 2010.
A hotel guest says, even if there are people drinking alcohol around us, it does not bother us. It is their own choice. But she says such an environment is not ideal for her family.

Turkey, under the decade-long rule of the Islamist rooted Justice and Development Party has enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom. But observers say those reaping the benefits are now the pious supporters of the party, rather than the traditional elite.

This has given birth to a wealthy Islamic middle class, which has its own demands and money to pay for them, according to assistant sociology professor Kenan Cayir of Istanbul's Bilgi University.

"The success of Islamic groups in economy of course they demand to go on holiday in Islamic terms," he said. "That means we began to see new Islamic hotels and their number tremendously increase in 2000 in the AK [ruling party] period. So Islamic lifestyles have achieved a vertical mobility."

But with Turkey deeply polarized between the pious and secular, the rise of Islamic hotels has been met with suspicion by some.

In a café in Bodrum, Okan Ozsu of the center-left main opposition Republican People's Party, is deeply skeptical of the rise of Islamic hotels. He suspects a political agenda behind them.

They are trying to bring their lifestyles to this area, he said. The ruling Islamic AK Party is in a weak position in the coastal towns in this region and he says conservative people from the big cities are imposing their clothing and living styles here.

Perhaps the most visible sign of the rise of Islamic tourism can be seen at the beach.  Many women swim in suits that cover everything except their face, hands and feet.

In a Bodrum beach bar for secular tourists who are more accustomed to revealing bikinis, Islamic swimwear is a culture shock for some.

We should not have anything to do with women in hasema (Islamic Swimwear), we are comfortable people, this tourist says. Explaining the Islamic hotels are not right in the secular country.

But for another woman is more of a case of live and let live.

She says if it is their own preference, then she respects that. She says personally she finds it strange to swim in a costume in which you can not feel the coolness of the water on your skin. But she says how people spend their holiday is up to them.

The debate over secularism and religion has dominated Turkey's political agenda throughout the decade rule of the AK Party. It should not come as much of a surprise it has arrived at the country's beaches.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: SAS from: Atlanta
October 25, 2012 9:22 AM
This is a free world, let people wear what they want at the beach !

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid