Aswat Masriya (Cairo)

10 January 2013

Egypt: Israeli President Tells Nation - No Bikini, No Tourism

Israeli President Shimon Peres says he was not surprised by the denial of President Mohamed Mursi about sending him a letter, but by the fact that he sent him one in the first place.

The Egyptian President had denied sending a letter to the Israeli president where he addressed him as "dear friend."

The 89-year-old president of Israel told The New York Times that the incident only shows that Egypt's Islamist president is facing "tough dilemmas" like any leader taking office would.

"It is very easy to play the role of the abiding Muslim when you are not in power, but things get complicated when you are," Peres told Ronen Bergman of the New York Times on Wednesday.

Arguing that tourism in Egypt is essential for the economy to recover, the Israeli president said, "If they do not allow tourists to come and spend their vacations the way they like, they will not come. No bikini, no tourism."

Since the rise of Islamists in the Middle East's largest country, statements about restricting tourism and regulating the actions of tourists have become common, raising concerns over the fate of the already struggling economy.

Peres explained that in light of Egypt's new constitution, whether women are given freedom or not will determine if the Arab Spring has in fact been successful, arguing that "husbands" are delaying democratic progress in the Middle East.

"The husband does not want his wife to have equal rights. Without equal rights, it will be impossible to save Egypt, because if women are not educated, the children are not educated. People who cannot read and write cannot make a living."

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