Friday, April 27, 2012

Turkish town bans alcohol

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

Turkey’s beloved “moderate” Islamists – you know, the ones that everyone keeps telling Arab revolutionaries to “emulate” – are at it again.

Not content with attempting to criminalise adultery; demanding that the Danish Prime Minister violate his country’s constitution by censoring the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons; and defending the Sudanese war criminal Omar al-Bashir on the grounds that “it is not possible for a Muslim to commit genocide”; the AKP, or ‘Justice and Development Party’ of Prime Minister Erdoğan has now banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in the province of Afyonkarahisar, ostensibly in the interests of the “public good”, according to the Hürriyet newspaper.

You may choose to believe, if you wish, that the party’s “spiritual” leanings are merely incidental here. But Erdoğan’s contempt for and loathing of the fruits of the grape and grain have a rich history, going back to his days as Mayor of Istanbul in the ‘90s, when he banned the sale of alcohol in city-owned establishments. Since coming to high office, he has repeatedly raised taxes on the stuff, telling drinkers to “consume less” if they didn’t like it. He’s tightened regulations on its sale and advertising, and wondered aloud why anyone should drink wine when the alternative of simply eating grapes exists (surely an unimprovable definition of philistinism). Last year, Istanbul mayor and AKP apparatchik Ahmet Demircan banned establishments from using outdoor tables in Beyoğlu, which happens to be the capital’s liveliest and most convivial nightlife spot. According to Hürriyet, after Erdoğan complained at how many of his compatriots drink “until they sneeze and retch”, the satire-proof dolt “first rejected claims that the government was acting out of religious motivation [in its latest alcohol crackdown], then rhetorically questioned whether doing so was necessarily a bad thing.”

Well, what a question! But that’s for another day. For tonight – as it is Friday, after all – I encourage every reader who cares about the small matters of civil liberties and religious pluralism to support our beleaguered Turkish brothers and sisters by investing in some Turkish beer or, even better, raki. Just watch out for those damn sneezes.

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