Online Muslim sex shop launched in the Netherlands

Candid but demure, an online sex shop for Muslims has been launched in the Netherlands to tap into a demand for erotica that does not offend Sharia law.

"We had about 70,000 hits in the first four days," founder Abdelaziz Aouragh told AFP of his site that went online last week and claims to be the world's first erotic webshop for Muslims.

The 29-year-old Dutch national said it targets married Muslim couples as an alternative to sites "that focus on pornography and the extravagant side of erotica" - things forbidden in Islam.

The home page of El Asira, which means "Society" in Arabic, is a sober black and grey street with a line down the center, inviting women to enter on the left and men on the right.

Once inside, clients can browse in Dutch, Arabic or English through more than a dozen products, mainly massage oils, lubricants and tablets that claim to act as aphrodisiacs.

All ingredients are halal, or "permissible under Islam", said Aouragh, and conspicuously absent are dildos, vibrators and any type of pornography.

"Most of the other products out there have pictures of naked people or foul language - it was very difficult to find ones that I could use in my business," he said.

Instead, the website shows only photos of boxes, tablets, tubes and bottles - mainly in pink or blue with the brand's logo, a black flame.

"We have chosen a respectful approach," it says, proclaiming itself "a novelty in the Islamic world".

In one sense, it is also a very Dutch product - like Aouragh himself. Of Moroccan parentage, he was born and raised in Amsterdam and remains a practicing Muslim while embracing typically Dutch tolerance and search for consensus.

He says he, like many, used to think Islam looked upon sexuality as taboo until his friend-turned business partner Stefan Delsink prompted him to look further.

"There is a very stereotypical idea both inside and outside the community on Muslim sexuality," he said.

So Aouragh, who is married, set about consulting Islamic religious leaders and scholars to see what his business venture could sell and to whom.

"I have learnt a lot about what Islam says about sexuality, about how important it is to have a healthy sex life," he said.

Muslim clerics like Dutch Imam Abdul Jabbar see no harm in Aouragh's site.

"As long as he doesn't sell sex toys or those sorts of things there is no problem," he told AFP, adding: the Prophet Mohammad gave lots of advice about sex in marriage and "there need not be any shame."

Aouragh, who also works for a firm that provides assistance to disabled people in public places like airports, contends his website has another goal, amidst tension over Muslims and Muslim immigrants in Europe.

In the Netherlands - where Muslims account for five percent of the 16.5 million population - strains have continued since filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered in 2004 by an Islamic extremist upset over a documentary he made on Muslim women.

Today, support is growing for the far-right, anti-Islamic Party for Freedom (PVV), which some polls suggest is the country's most popular formation. Its leader Geert Wilders wants to ban the Koran, which he likens to Hitler's "Mein Kampf", and wants a tax on wearing head scarves.

"Everybody is talking about Islam in a negative way," said Aouragh. "I am trying to get something positive out of the dark."

"Muslims also have to deal with stereotypical prejudices by some non-Muslims on the topic of sexuality within the Islam," he said.

"We want to share with other Muslims in a positive way our contribution to a broader view of sexuality and eroticism within the Muslim community," the website says, "for Muslims themselves, as for others."

Not all want to enter the debate. Leyla Cakir, chairwoman of the Dutch Muslim women's organisation Al Nisa, told AFP: "This is not a topic with which we choose to involve ourselves".

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

    Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

    £30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

    £15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence