Politicians in Iraq who adhere to the Christian faith are working to overturn a law prohibiting the import and sale of alcoholic beverages. On Saturday, Mar. 4, customs personnel were instructed to implement the prohibition. Despite objections, it was signed into law a month ago.

Overturning Legislation Banning the Import and Sale of Alcohol

BBC News reported that the organization, which holds five seats in Iraq's parliament, has filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming it violates democratic principles. Although drinking in public is frowned upon in Iraq, a primarily Muslim country, alcoholic beverages can be purchased in regulated establishments such as bars and liquor stores. The legislation, which the parliament initially approved in 2016, levies a maximum penalty of 25 million Iraqi dinars, equivalent to £14,256.

The law, which outlaws the sale, import, and production of alcohol, only became official this month, seven years after it was approved, when it was published in the official gazette. In their court appeal, members of the Babylon Movement argued that the Act was illegal because it disregarded the rights of minorities and inhibited individual liberty. It also contradicts a government regulation adopted less than a week before the publication of the gazette on Feb. 20. It sets the tariff on all imported alcoholic beverages at 200 percent for the next four years.

As per Anadolu Agency, Amid criticism from Christian legislators, Iraq has prohibited the importation of alcoholic beverages. The Iraqi General Authority of Customs announced in a statement that all customs posts had been told to forbid the entry of any alcoholic beverages. It justified the action by citing the 2023 Municipal Imports Ordinance bans importing, manufacturing, and selling alcoholic beverages. Although the Iraqi parliament approved the bill in October 2016, it wasn't implemented until last month.

Christian legislator Farouk Hanna Ato criticized the application of the law, stating that it "contradicts the pillars of the Iraqi Constitution."

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Import Ban on Alcohol

According to The Guardian, one of the nation's most popular vices, alcohol, is again at the center of a dispute between hardliners who desire an import ban and drinkers determined to defy them. The newest debate over whether or not alcohol can be supplied stems from a cabinet minister's weekend order to customs authorities to implement an import prohibition.

In Iraq, where alcohol sales have skyrocketed in recent years and the licensed hospitality industry is booming, many were outraged by the decision. In a country where drinking has become an integral part of the lives of millions of people and where the boundary between traditional customs and more liberal pleasures appears to be blurrier than at any time before Saddam Hussein's collapse, enforcing such a prohibition seems to be an arduous task.

In the capital of Iraq, many officials and members of anti-alcohol groups are regular drinkers. Several legal liquor stores pay protection money to the same militia organizations whose commanders now threaten to shut them down. On Monday, Feb. 27, a Christian political coalition filed suit to overturn the decision to implement an import ban, alleging that it discriminates against minorities and is illegal.

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