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Halal business: Consuming passions
"Even in Mecca and Medina people have intercourse," says Abdelaziz Aouragh, a Dutch Muslim who runs a "sensuality shop" (not a "sex shop", he insists) for his co-religionists, under the slogan "Feel admired. Feel loved. Feel sensual". El-Asira, which means "society" in Arabic, sells online and at Amsterdam airport. Bestselling items include massage oils and lingerie. Turnover this year is predicted to be €1m ($1.29m).
That is only the tiniest sliver of the sales to the world's 1.8 billion Muslim shoppers, a market likely to grow by 35% by 2030. But stereotypes of joyless zealotry are as misleading as the idea that the Muslim market involves only interest-free finance and hand-slaughtered meat. Sharia law forbids meat such as pork and birds of prey, plus blood and carrion. But views on what else is prohibited differ. Inglot, for example, is a nail varnish made in Poland which markets itself as Muslim-friendly because the lacquer is permeable, so it does not need to be removed before Islamic washing rituals. The Koran is silent on such issues; sceptics doubt they matter.
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