KONYA, Turkey, and JAKARTA -- With the global economy in the doldrums, one of the few bright spots is the travel market. Muslim-friendly halal tourism in particular is showing healthy growth, and is becoming a top priority for Turkey and Indonesia, two of the world's biggest Muslim democracies.
At the beginning of May, Turkey hosted the second International Halal Tourism Conference, one of the world's biggest of such events, in Konya. This city in the country's pious Anatolian heartland is where the 13th century Persian poet, philosopher and Sufi mystic Mawlana Jalaludin Rumi spent the last few decades of his life. His shrine, now a museum, attracts followers and tourists from all over the world, especially on Dec. 17, when his death is commemorated with rituals such as a massive whirling dervish ceremony.