Iraq: In a surprise move, Iraq’s parliament has passed a law prohibiting the import, production or selling of alcoholic beverages and any one violating the law will be imposed with it a hefty 25 million Iraqi dinars, or $21,000 penalty; as Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol.
The measure was passed during a parliamentary session in Baghdad on Saturday. This move angered many of the country’s Christian community who rely on the business.
“A law was passed today and article 14 of that law bans the import, production and sale of all kinds of alcohol,” said Yonadam Kanna, a veteran Christian MP.
“Every violation of this law incurs a fine of 10 million to 25 million dinars [roughly $8,000 to $20,000],” he said. Mr. Kanna vowed to appeal the law in a federal court.
The legislation was proposed by Mahmoud al-Hassan,a judge and lawmaker from the State of Law coalition. “The constitution preserves democracy and the rights of non-Muslim groups, but these rights must not violate the religion of Islam,” he said. “Some of the lawmakers’ vote was religiously motivated, but many others voted to avoid anything unconstitutional.”
Ammar Toma, a Shia lawmaker, defended the measure, emphasizing that the constitution stipulates that “no law that contradicts the provisions of Islam may be established.”
Christian lawmaker Joseph Slaiwa 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 liquor shops are currently closed because of the Shiite holy month of Muharram. But it’s unclear how strictly the law would be enforced.
The bill comes as Iraq is waging a massive military operation to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group. IS brutally enforces a ban on alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs in the territory under its control.