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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid