Iraq bans alcoholic beverages

The Iraq Parliament approved a law "Forbidding the import, manufacture and sale of all kinds of alcohol drinks." Until this time, alcohol has been made readily available in shops, bars, restaurant and hotels in Baghdad and some of the provinces; it was not unusual for young people in Baghdad to be observed drinking. Lawmaker and head of the parliament's legal panel, Mahmoud al-Hassan, stated that the law was necessary to preserve Iraq's identity as a Muslim country. Al-Hassan belongs to the Shi'ite majority, a conservative section of Iraq's population, which has dominated the parliament since the US invasion of the country in 2003.

Opponents of the law stated that it infringes religious freedom of Christians and other minority groups, protected by the constitution. Member of parliament  Ammar Toma justified the law, stating that the constitution stipulates that "no law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established." Christians and other minority groups have expressed concern over the law, which they view as a threat to fundamental principles of freedom and the inevitable result of the growing influence of religious parties. MP and Iraq Christian minority leader Yonadim Kanna has expressed his intention to refer the case to federal court stating that the ban violates the Iraq Constitution.

From Jurist, Oct. 23. Used with permission.