Haluk Murat Demirel is an enterpreneur living in the most IT-savy country in his region of the world. He is 38, likes sex and he discuss it with his friends. So he did the obvious: he opened an online sex shop which immediately gained an incredible 33,000 daily accesses. This however would hardly make the news if it wasn’t for one detail. Demirel’s business is in Turkey.
This is a 99.8% Muslim country with a growing integralist presence, so sex is really not an easy subject to tackle. People don’t openly talk about it, pornography and erotic pictures are frowned upon and make everyone uneasy, but above all sex is heavily regulated – like everything else – by the Quran. No common sex shop could thrive under these conditions, and in fact none existed until last Tuesday.
The game-changing intuition was to make it a halāl business, hence the literal name ofHalal Sex Shop. ‘Halāl’ is the Islamic concept of ‘permissible according to religious law’: eating pork, in example, is famously not halāl if you are a good Muslim.
This virtual shop follows every religious precept. Its homepage contains separate male and female entrances to technically different shops; none of the available products contains any alcohol; no pornography is sold, and so on. The shelves offer a tame selection of sexual aids by Western standards: lubricants, retardant creams, herbal “performance enhancers”, massage oils and condoms.
An especially interesting area of the website is an open forum where users anonymously discuss properly Islamic sexuality, with headings like ‘Oral sex according to Islam’, ‘Sex manners in Islam’ and ‘Sexual life in Islam’.