Posted by: Tony Carson | 15 September, 2007

Baghdad Must Be Better in Alcoholic Haze

Selling and drinking alcohol is still legal in Iraq, but since the rise of religious parties in this predominantly Muslim country, the trade has come under severe pressure. Aside from legal restrictions, many liquor shops have been bombed in the past four years.

Some who dared sell alcohol from their homes have been killed by religious militias, which use fear and intimidation to keep liquor out of areas they control.

For decades, Baghdad’s nightclubs and bars by the Tigris river were famous throughout the Middle East for grilled fish, alcohol and scantily clad belly dancers. Similar clubs in the southern city of Basra used to attract thousands of Kuwaitis who drove to the Iraqi city for fun and drinks.

But in 1993, Saddam, reeling from his loss in the 1991 Gulf War, launched a religious campaign that included a ban on public consumption of alcohol, closing nightclubs, combatting prostitution and giving religious lessons to the public, including those in his secular Baath party.

Full USA Today story here: Alcohol business risky in Baghdad

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