Iraqi parliament voted Friday to ban the sale, import and manufacturing of alcohol saying that the move justifies the country’s constitution, which prohibits any law that goes against Islam. The development, however, has angered opponents who argued that it violates assurance of religious freedom for minority groups such as Christians.
The ban was added last-minute to a draft law on municipalities, parliament officials told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“A law was passed today and article 14 of that law bans the import, production and sale of all kinds of alcohol,” Yonadam Kanna, a veteran Christian MP, told AFP on Saturday. “Every violation of this law incurs a fine of 10 million to 25 million dinars (about $8,000 to $20,000).”
Kanna said they will appeal the law in a federal court.
Although, alcohol is not served in restaurants and hotels in the Shiite-dominated country, consumption is not uncommon. Alcohol beverages are sold in small shops in the country especially in Baghdad. Moreover, Farida beer or Asriya arak — a regional anise-flavored spirit — is produced in the country.
Among the supporters of the ban was member of parliament Ammar Toma who said that the move was justified because the constitution specifies that “no law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.”