Iraq Bans Alcohol Despite Pushback From the Opposition Party
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Iraq Bans Alcohol Despite Pushback From the Opposition Party

Iraq Now Enforcing a Ban on Alcohol, Government Facing Criticism From Christian Politicians

A man works at a shop selling alcoholic beverages in the Bataween district of Baghdad. (Photo: Ameer Al-Mohammedawi/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

On Saturday, customs officials in Iraq were ordered to start enforcing a ban on alcohol. Christian politicians are working to overturn the legislation that banned the import and sale of alcohol in the country.

The Iraqi parliament initially passed the law in 2016. The ban became official last month when the announcement that the law had taken effect was published in Iraq’s official gazette on Feb. 20. This comes almost seven years after the law passed. It is unclear what caused the significant delay.

The law prohibits imported alcoholic beverages. Additionally, alcohol cannot be sold in local markets or domestically manufactured. 

The government told customs officials that those traveling across the border and through the airports are to have any alcohol confiscated, according to documents obtained by Reuter

According to the BBC, only a few weeks ago the Iraqi government set duties for all imported alcoholic beverages at 200% for the next four years. The increased tax on alcohol appears contradictory to the policy that banned the import of the very same product, especially when the two announcements occurred around the same time. 

A lawmaker from Iraq’s Christian minority, Aswan al-Kildani filed a challenge in federal court, according to Reuter. He argues the ban infringes on freedoms guaranteed in Iraq’s democratic constitution. 

Some worry that prohibiting alcohol could be a sign Iraq is leaning politically closer to neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia where religious standards and belief systems often dictate government policies. It will be up to the Iraqi Federal court to see if this ban remains. 

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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.