Many Egyptian women say they are facing a difficult summer season as Hijab-free zones have soared in popularity, as more restaurants and high-end resorts enforce a de-facto ban on wearing headbags.
al-Arabiya Social media users in Egypt flocked to Facebook and Twitter over the past week to condemn the apparent decision by some venues to deny veiled women entry. Many deemed the ban as “discriminatory” against practicing Muslim women in Egypt – a country in which 90 percent of its 80-million population are Muslim.
The ban is not completely new, it was reportedly common at resorts and restaurants frequented by foreigners, in cities such as Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada.
Recent reports suggest that several swimming pools and restaurants at five-star resorts lining the Egyptian north coast are also restricting the entry of veiled women to their services.
Reem, a 28-year-old woman who wears the Hijab, said she was turned away at the doors of two different beaches at upscale north coast resorts for being veiled, she told Al Arabiya News. “I was with my husband when I was told I cannot come in because I’m veiled.
“The outing was quickly cut short when the security at the door told me guests complain about the appearance of veiled women,” she added. Reem said such door-selection policies are never written.
Sally Nashaat, a 26-year-old mother of two girls, said she was also not allowed to enter a beach club house at a five-star north coast resort for being veiled.
Among a group of friends, she was told: “Everyone can enter, except her.“It feels degrading, we are in our own country and we are not happy. “I was about to cry,” Nashaat said, “no one has the right to deprive me of entering. This never happened to me anywhere else, even in the United States. (That needs to be changed)
Nashaat said in some beaches that permitted access to veiled women, she was allowed to sit on the beach wearing the “Islamic” swim suit but not into the swimming pool. “I don’t want to be stopped for being veiled. I don’t want any of us to feel ashamed. We are not doing anything wrong,” she added.
Dina Sherbini, who owns a chalet at an upscale resort in Ain Sukhna, about 200 kilometres east of Cairo, told Al Arabiya News she was threatened by staff members if she swam wearing an Islamic swim suit. They threatened “they would throw excess chlorine in the water” and that they would “shut off fountains and Jacuzzi in the pool,” Sherbini said.
When she bought the chalet three years ago, Sherbini said, nothing in her contract mentioned that swimming while covered was unacceptable in the resort. “It was allowed before but now they changed their mind. What can we do now? Neither myself or my daughters are now allowed to swim.”
Sherbini also recalled a recent incident where the same administration refused to sell a friend of hers a unit at the resort for being veiled.