Cocktails And Bikinis In Newest 'Islamic State' (VIDEO)

Cocktails And Bikinis In Newest ‘Islamic State’ (VIDEO)

A Small West African Country Announces That It’s An ‘Islamic State’

Back in December the President Yahya Jammeh announced that the small west African country popular with European tourists would now officially be known as the Islamic Republic of Gambia. The name change may inspire thoughts of religious conservatism and modesty, but as The Guardian reported Friday, it has had little effect on the tourism at the heart of the country’s economy. The beach resorts with their sunbathing tourists remain blissfully unaffected, one woman enjoying the sun on a beach café was in utter disbelief that she was vacationing in an Islamic state.

 “It doesn’t seem at all Islamic, does it, Chrissie? Quick, we’d better get another beer in before they close all the bars.”

In his announcement President Jammeh claimed that the change would help the country break with its colonial past, but other possible motives have been debated. Some see it as a way to improve relations with other Islamic republics in the Middle East. Since funds from the European Union and former ally Libya are gone Gambia is in need of new international partners. Others have warned that it could be a dangerous move toward religious extremism in a county that is more than ninety percent Muslim, and suffering from poverty and repression. Earlier in January an executive order for all female civil servants to cover their hair while at work was issued and shortly thereafter rescinded as women were unhappy with the measure. This immediate backlash makes the concern for extremism seem exaggerated.

President Jammeh has been known to stomp out opposition since the coup that brought him to power in 1994. The country has a shockingly abysmal human rights record, and torture is commonplace. The president is known for a violently anti-gay stance and in May 2015 went so far as to threaten to “slit the throat” of gay men.

The word “Islamic” is a good way to grab attention in the West at the minute, but given that for decades Westerners have continued to flood the resorts of a country that has committed countless acts of torture, crushes any opposition, that criminalizes homosexuality and actively promotes violence against LGBT individuals it is unfortunate that this is what catches people’s attention. The Islamic state name change may well be smoke and mirrors but the human rights violations in Gambia are very real and that is what should shock vacationers in those coastal beach resorts, sipping their cocktails.

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

A Canadian, currently located in Dublin, Nikita Oliver-Lew has an avid interest in all things political. She has an MSc in Comparative European Politics from Trinity College Dublin and hopes to return to her PhD studies on migration in Europe.

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A Canadian, currently located in Dublin, Nikita Oliver-Lew has an avid interest in all things political. She has an MSc in Comparative European Politics from Trinity College Dublin and hopes to return to her PhD studies on migration in Europe.

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App