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".

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport