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Online Sex Shop Pulls Back Veil on Muslim Sexuality

el asira

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Marketing an online sex shop for Muslims can’t be the easiest of jobs–or can it? Just ask Abdelaziz Aouragh, a 29-year-old Dutchman, whose Web site, elasira.net supposedly opened for business earlier this month. Although there’s a limit to what he can sell on the site–nothing that needs batteries, for example–condoms, lube, and pills are all freely available. At least, they would be if the site weren’t down.

[We briefly interrupt this saucy post to acknowledge the proximity of April Fools and to admit that we’re a bit suspicious of this whole thing, given that site itself doesn’t seem to be working. We’ve posed questions to the site’s designer and hope to hear back soon–we’ll update this if so. But for now, in the interest of exploring this disruptive business idea…]

Selling sexy stuff without incurring a fatwa is a tricky business. Aouragh, who reportedly also works for a site that assists the disabled in public places, consulted an imam before starting up El Asira, the Arabic word for Society. Anything with animal fats was forbidden, as it would not be halal. Pornography and what is described as “the extravagant side to erotica” are also no-go areas. And certainly no vibrators.

Aouragh, who is married with a three-year-old daughter, used to think that Islam and sexuality were not incompatible, until he talked to his business partner, who suggested he took the idea further. It is evident that he has had numerous frank discussions with his imam, as he worried that supplying such goods to Muslims might be sinful, given that masturbation is illegal under Sharia law. “It’s not my responsibility,” he said. “Sinful behaviour will be punished after death.”

The site is available in three languages: Dutch, English, and Arabic, and there are two entrances on the rather coy home page: one for men, one for women. Stefan Delsink, the guy who designed the site said it was a harder job than he thought. “I had to build a site with an erotic and exclusive look. Try doing that without pictures,” he told handelsblad Web site.

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About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S

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