Parliament votes to ban alcohol
IRAQ’S parliament voted to ban the sale, import and production of alcohol, in a surprise move likely to anger some minorities but please influential religious parties.
Proponents of the ban argued that it is justified by the constitution, which prohibits any law contradicting Islam. Opponents argued that it also violated the same constitution which guarantees the traditions of religious minorities.
According to an MP and a parliament official, the ban was a last-minute addition to a draft law on municipalities that caught the anti-ban camp flat-footed.
The law was also passed by MPs in Baghdad as all eyes were on the north of the country, where forces involved in Iraq’s biggest military operation in years are battling the Islamic State group and moving to retake the city of Mosul.
A veteran Christian MP Yonadam Kanna said every violation of this law incurs a fine of 10 million to 25 million dinars (US$8000 to $20,000), adding that he will appeal the law in a federal court.
An MP who voted in support of the ban argued that the constitution stated “no law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established”.
Alcohol is rarely offered in restaurants and hotels in Iraq, but consumption is relatively widespread, especially in Baghdad.
Iraq also has companies producing various types of alcohol, such as Farida beer or Asriya arak (an anise-flavoured spirit). – AFP