Alcohol strictly prohibited in Egypt’s 4 major Islamic holidays beyond Ramadan: minister


Egyptians won’t be able to purchase alcoholic beverages during the month of Ramadan as well as the four major Islamic holidays, an Egyptian daily reported on Sunday citing a new decision by the Tourism Minister.

Serving alcohol to Egyptians during Ramadan has long been banned in Egypt out of respect for the holy month, during which Muslims tend to strictly abide by Islamic prohibitions and laws. According to Islamic teachings, the consumption of alcohol is strictly forbidden at all times.

Egyptian Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhri Abdul Nour decided to apply the prohibition on four other days of the year: the Islamic New Year, the holiday commemorating the Israa and Meraag, Prophet Mohammed’s birthday and the day of Arafa, the online edition of the state-run al-Ahram daily reported, quoting a report by the state news agency MENA.

Abdul Nour’s decision was made out of respect for “the feelings of Muslims,” according to the report.

However, serving of alcohol to Egyptians on any of the Islamic holidays has been banned for over 30 years, during the reign of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

According to Abdul Nour’s decision, serving of alcohol to Egyptians by restaurants or bars on any of these days would result in severe legal measures.

“My license of more than 20 years has prohibited me from serving alcohol to Egyptians during Ramadan and on those four holidays anyways, so I don’t know what the minister’s decision is about,” the owner of a popular mid-town restaurant-bar was quoted by al-Ahram Online as saying.

Since the election last month of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi as president, speculation has been rife that Islamist political forces would seek to ban the sale of alcohol and to seek restrictions on the wearing swim suites on beaches.

However, Abdul Nour was asked in an interview with Al Arabiya earlier July about whether the focus in Egypt’s tourism strategy would be on cultural tourism rather than beach tourism; but he ruled out the notion by saying that beach tourism contributes 80% of the total Egyptian tourism.

The concerns, however, were somehow eased after the Islamist-dominated lower house of parliament – known as the People’s Assembly -- was dissolved by a court order in June.

Yet, fears of theocratic rule in Egypt were renewed once again after the Mursi – a member of the Muslim Brotherhood -- was elected as Egypt’s president last month.