Q – We are considering joining our church group for a tour our Minister is leading to Egyot and the Holy Land. As part of the trip, we’ll be spending nine nights in Egypt and we’re a little nervous. We’ve never been to Europe or the Middle East so this is kind of a big deal for us. We’re in our thirties and in great shape. It’s more the political situation that causes us, particularly my husband, to be nervous about this. We do need to make a decision as the deposit is due this coming week so a prompt response would be appreciated. Thanking you in advance for all you do. Please do not use my name.

A – As you may have noticed, we protect the names of anyone who participates in our Q and A. The fact is that no one knows what the political situation will be in Egypt in six months. You have already failed our “Anxiety Meter” test and, on that basis alone, we would suggest you not do the trip. There are lots of places you can go to do humanitarian work or practice the involvement of you faith without placing yourself in an uncomfortable situation.

In the most recent parliamentary elections, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has made some significant gains.  No one in Egypt is expecting the strict enforcement of Muslim Law but there are political figures who are gaining favor in Egypt who believe that bikinis, alcohol, and anything else that smacks of vice, should be eliminated. The up side is that one out of every eight jobs in Egypt is tourism-related so we really think there will be a compromise as it affects rules governing tourist behavior. Tour groups are entering the country at the moment but we are wondering how experienced your Minister is at handling emergencies in the far corners of the world. Who, we wonder, is actually operating the tour and how tuned in are they to local disturbances on the ground? We do encourage the non-timid to continue travel to Egypt but only if they are aware of potential difficulties and only if they are being looked after by the best possible ground staff. Church groups, sorry, have a dismal track record when it comes to intelligent selection of on-site affiliates, and often choose tour operators based solely on cost.