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food / travel

Egypt: Great Year For Democracy, Dismal For Tourism

Year-end totals are in for the number of 2011 visitors for the Egyptian capital and its top seaside resort Sharm el-Sheikh. Not surprisingly, hotels were largely empty as protests in the streets surged.

The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Cairo (StartAgain)
The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Cairo (StartAgain)

*NEWSBITES

CAIRO - While Tahrir Square witnessed unprecedented Arab spring crowds, tourism to the Egyptian capital took a major hit in the historical year of 2011. The situation wasn't much sunnier for the travel sector in Egypt's top resort destination, Sharm el-Sheikh.

According to Osama al-Ashry, head of the hotels sector at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, hotel occupancy in Cairo plunged this past year to 40%, a 25% decrease from the year before. The rate in Sharm el-Sheikh went down to 58%, a drop of 20% from 2010.

Ashry told Al-Masry Al-Youm the falling rates were expected given the current security situation. "It is a harsh decline, but we still have confidence in Egypt's tourist destinations," he said.

Nagui Erian, a member of the Egyptian Hotels Association, said some countries such as the UK, France and Japan were wary of the establishment of a religious police service, which a number of Islamist acivists called for on Facebook in late December. "Travel agents from these countries have been asking if Egypt is turning into another Iran, but we have been assuring them that the suggestions were just conversations on social networks and no official action was taken," he said.

Read the original article in Al-Masry Al-Youm

Photo - StartAgain

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Society

Mahsa Amini, Martyr Of An Iranian Regime Designed To Abuse Women

The 22-year-old is believed to have been beaten to death at a Tehran police station last week after "morality police" had reprimanded her clothing. The case has sparked the nation's outrage. But as ordinary Iranians testify, such beatings, torture and a home brand of misogyny are hallmarks of the 40-year Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mahsa Amini

Firouzeh Nordstrom

-Analysis-

TEHRAN — The death in Iran of a 22-year-old Mahsa Amini — after she was arrested by the so-called "morality police" — has unleashed another wave of protests, as thousands of Iranians vent their fury against an intrusive and violent regime. Indeed, as tragically exceptional as the circumstances appear, the reaction reflects the daily reality of abuse by authorities, especially directed toward women

Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian girl visiting Tehran with relatives, was detained by the regime's morality patrols on Sept. 13, apparently for not respecting the Islamic dress code that includes proper use of the hijab headscarf. Amini was declared dead two or three days after being taken into custody. Officials say she fainted and died, and blamed a preexisting heart condition. But neither her family nor anyone else in Iran believe that, as can be seen in the mounting protests that have now left at least three dead.

For Amini's was hardly the first arbitrary arrest, or the first suspected death in custody under Iran's Islamic regime.

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