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.
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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid