Iraq’s parliament passes law banning alcohol

Source: The Guardian

Iraq’s parliament has passed a law forbidding the import, production or selling of alcoholic beverages in a surprise move that angered many in the country’s Christian community who rely on the business.

The law, passed late on Saturday night, imposes a fine of up to 25m Iraqi dinars (£17,000) for anyone violating the ban. But it’s unclear how strictly the law would be enforced, and it could be struck down by the supreme court.

Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, but it has always been available in Iraq’s larger cities, mainly from shops run by Christians. Those shops are currently closed because of the Shia holy month of Muharram.

Iraq’s parliament is dominated by Shia Islamist parties. The assembly announced the ban on its website but did not say how many lawmakers voted for or against it.

Christian lawmaker Joseph Slaiwa said the “unjust” ban was slipped into a draft law regulating the income of municipal authorities without lawmakers being notified. The original article only called for imposing taxes on liquor stores and restaurants serving liquor, he said.

“This ban is unconstitutional, as the constitution acknowledges the rights of non-Muslim minorities and ethnic groups who live alongside Muslims in Iraq,” he said. “To those Muslim lawmakers, I say: ‘Take care of your religion and leave ours for us, we know how to deal with it’.”

He said some lawmakers will submit an appeal at the high federal court.

The bill was proposed by Mahmoud al-Hassan, a judge and lawmaker from the State of Law coalition, the largest bloc in parliament. He insisted it was inkeeping with article 2 in the constitution, which prohibits any legislation that goes against Islam.

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