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Iraqi president calls for revision of alcohol ban

The ban has been criticised as an infringement on minority rights [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 October, 2016

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Iraqi President Fuad Masum on Wednesday called for parliament to revise a law passed over the weekend that included a provision banning alcohol, as the law faces growing opposition.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum on Wednesday called for parliament to revise a law passed over the weekend that included a provision banning alcohol.

The ban on the sale, import and production of alcohol, which was slipped into a draft law on municipalities in parliament on Saturday, has been criticised as an infringement on minority rights.

Masum's statement did not specifically mention the alcohol provision, but did say the law in question should be revised, and criticised the surreptitious way in which an article was inserted into it as being inconsistent with "democratic legal principles".

The president called for "the revision of this law," and for it to respect "the freedoms and rights of citizens of different religions and doctrines," the statement from his office said.

The law also faced objection by some Iraqi MPs who accused the country’s ruling Islamist parties of introducing it "in order to benefit their business interests".

Faiq al-Sheikh Ali, a secular Shia MP and a member of the parliamentary legal committee accused some Islamist parties, without naming them, of controlling the drug trade and said they pushed the alcohol ban through to benefit their drug interests.

“Opium poppies have started to be grown in Iraq, especially in the south, and millions of amphetamine pills are being smuggled from Iran, and those who consume alcohol will not consume these drugs,” Sheikh Ali said in a parliamentary press conference Monday. 

The Iraqi constitution says that the president has the power to "approve and issue laws enacted by the House of Representatives."

But it does not state that he can reject them, and it was unclear how parliament would respond to Masum's statement.

The consumption of alcohol is prohibited by Islam, but drinking is fairly widespread in Iraq, including in Baghdad, where there are scores of small alcohol shops.

Agencies contributed to this report

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