Friday, December 17, 2010

Baghdad Government Cracking Down On Alcohol Sales

Recently, the local government of Baghdad has tried to crackdown on alcohol sales. At the end of November 2010 Iraqi police entered a café in the capital frequented by members of the Iraqi Writers Union, and forced the owner to sign a paper saying that his establishment was a nightclub so that it could be shut down. The authorities were using an old Saddam era law from the 1990s that banned the sale of alcohol in hotels and restaurants by all except Christians to non-Musims. Afterward, writers and poets of the Union organized a protest claiming that the government was using laws that it had condemned before, and trying to impose a religious state based upon Iran’s. A few days later there were counter demonstrations by the Sadrists calling for all liquor to be banned in the country. 

Back in August 2009, Dawa led provincial councils started banning alcohol in the capital, Basra, Najaf, and Wasit. (1) That led to the closing of several liquor stores that had just re-opened after government crackdowns on Shiite militias in 2008. Dawa is Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s party.

Even though the premier has run on a secular platform in the 2009 and 2010 elections, there are still religious elements of his party, and it may be trying to appeal to likeminded Iraqis. The Sadrists for example, were key to securing Maliki’s nomination for a second term in office. Starting another anti-liquor campaign could be aimed at winning points with them as they have come out in support of the bans.

Sadrists protesting for banning alcohol in Baghdad

(MEMRI Blog)

Writers and poets protesting crackdown on liquor sales in Baghdad

(MEMRI Blog)

(Jewish Policy Center)


1. Al-Wazzan, Saleem, “booze ban in basra,” 3/23/10


Agence France Presse, “Iraqi writers protest against club closure and alcohol ban,” 12/3/10

Al-Jader, May, “Iraqi Writers Union outraged by social club closure,” AK News, 11/29/10

Al-Rafidayn, Al Arabiya, Al-Mada, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, “The Crisis of Closing Down Baghdad Night Clubs Escalates,” MEMRI Blog, 12/9/10

Reuters, “Supporters of Shi’ite cleric MOqtada al-Sadr,” 12/10/10

Al-Wazzan, Saleem, “booze ban in basra,” 3/23/10

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