THE mayor of Broumana, Pierre Achkar, has a problem. Rich tourists from the Gulf, who spend big and stay long, no longer holiday in his mountain town. The mayor wants to entice tourists from the West to plug the gap, but Lebanon’s reputation for violence and instability keeps them away, he says. His solution: to hire young women as police officers and dress them up in black hot pants.
“People in the West don’t visit Lebanon because they think it’s a country of Islamic extremism,” explains Mr Achkar. “We want to show that we have the same way of life as the West. You wear shorts and we wear shorts. We have democracy. Our women are free.” The mayor’s stunt has caused a stir and split opinion. Some are pleased, but others say it exposes the young women to sexual harassment, or worry that they will distract drivers and cause road accidents. The mayor is undaunted. “Why would we hire ugly girls?” he asks.
The new hires direct…
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