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Cairo's First "Islamic" Café

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By Yomna El-Saeed
Freelance Writer- Egypt
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The café’s founders don't want to label themselves as Salafis- radical Muslims-but rather present themselves as 'conservative Muslims'.

Externally, “D.cappuccino” looks like another normal café. But no it's not! It's Cairo's first Islamic café.

Male and female customers are separated, the waiters wear beards, no songs are played, and smoking is prohibited.

It's the first time in Egypt to have this type of cafés, where there is a men's partition, women's partition, and a families' partition; the café shuts down at prayer times.

The founders say that the café’s mission is to reflect society’s decent moral values, and they want their customers to feel at ease.

New Trend

D.cappuccino is described on its Facebook page as a "the official chilling out café".  It's open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Like the rest of the Egyptian cafés, you can find there pizzas, sunshine cocktails, cheesecake, nicely decorated cupcakes, and more delicious food.

The current political landscape of the Muslim majority Egypt is in favor for such endeavors to grow. Egypt after the revolution erupted in the 25th of January, 2011, witnessed a rise of Islamic trends.

After being oppressed and marginalized for long decades, the Islamists finally were able to do big social activities and found a number of political parties.

The first parliament of post-revolution Egypt was of an Islamist majority, the first president, President Mohammed Morsi, belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood; and the new constitution approved by referendum is guided by Islamic law.

The café’s founders don't want to label themselves as Salafis- radical Muslims-but rather present themselves as 'conservative Muslims'.

When the Saudi Sheikh Muhammad Al-Arifi visited Cairo last month he went there, and he praised it on his twitter account and said "it's very decent".

D.cappuccino is described on its Facebook page as a "the official chilling out café".  It's open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Like the rest of the Egyptian cafés, you can find there pizzas, sunshine cocktails, cheesecake, nicely decorated cupcakes, and more delicious food.

Its menu is as nice as the relaxing setting of more than 3,000 square feet establishment.

Reaction to the New Café

Egypt is new to the gender segregation in cafés, but not to the gender segregation concept as a whole. The Egyptian subway has always been having “women only” wagons for a long time.

There are "women only" beaches in Alexandria and the North Coast as well as "women only" pools in the sports clubs. Also, there are "women only" and "men only" gymnasiums.

The idea of having a new Islamic café was widely mocked by a number of Egyptians on the social media. Some mockingly asked "Why would Islamists run a café? Why don't they concentrate on mosques and charitable projects?"

And some were angry for labeling the café "Islamist"; that the owners were using this label to sell.

These voices that are basically against the cafe have a fear of more rising and more domination of the Islamists.

Ironically, among the strongest criticism was from the Islamists themselves, those who seek a lifestyle molded on the Prophet’s in his own time. “Islam and cafés are incompatible. Have you ever heard of cafés during the early years of Islam?” wondered Hany Ismaïl Mohamad, a member of the Al-Nour Salafi party.

On the other hand, most of the café’s visitors like the place and find it "safe for girls" and "comfortable".

Egypt is new to the gender segregation in cafés, but not to the gender segregation concept as a whole. The Egyptian subway has always been having “women only” wagons for a long time.

There are "women only" beaches in Alexandria and the North Coast as well as "women only" pools in the sports clubs. Also, there are "women only" and "men only" gymnasiums.

Some cafés in Egypt prohibit hijabis, other clubs and beaches prohibit niqabis. The Opera House imposes formal dressing code only. With analogous logic, what is wrong with running D.cappuccino?

Related Links:
“Egypt, I Wish…”- What Egyptians Dream of (Watch)
A Trip to Egypt: My First Step to Islam
Minorities and Freedoms in Egypt Constitution
“Jews of Egypt”: A Banned Documentary

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