Bahrain to ban booze? MPs push for sober state

The proposal calls on the government to set a timeline for the phasing out of alcohol sales

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Bahraini MPs have backed a proposal to gradually outlaw the sale of alcohol in the kingdom, linking it to “sleaze and prostitution,” Gulf Daily News reported this week.

The sobering proposal calls on the government to set a timeline for the phasing out of alcohol sales until it is no longer available in the country.

This isn’t the first time parliament has launched an attack on alcohol, in 2010 a similar move to ban the sale of alcohol was vetoed by the Shura Council.

This time around, National Assembly Speaker Dr. Khalifa al-Dhahrani said alcohol was un-Islamic and encouraged inappropriate behavior.

Also read: Ban the bikini! Kuwait in nudity crackdown

“Bahrain is violating Islam with the sale of alcohol and by allowing sleaze in the open,” he said, according to the newspaper.

Although one- and two-star hotels in the country have already been banned from hosting live musical acts and serving alcohol, MP Ali al-Zayed believes a wide ban in needed.

“Alcohol and prostitution shouldn’t be allowed in an Islamic country,” he was quoted as saying.

The most recent vote to phase out alcohol, which was taken this week, will now be referred to the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, commenting on the apparent corruption of morals in the country, MP Abdulhakeem al-Shemmri claimed some police officers were profiting from prostitution.

Also read: Show respect! Qatar ‘dress code’ shocks expats

“Individuals beat women to have sex and practice sleaze,” he was quoted as saying.

“Women come as secretaries and are then tortured to get into the profession by force.

“I am confident that there are policemen involved in this racketeering process, which sees huge acts of human trafficking, because Bangladeshi pimps are unable to do this themselves.

“There are also homosexuals walking freely in Adliya under the gaze of everyone, without being touched.”

MP Hassan Bukhammas agreed that tough action should be taken in certain areas of the country.

“Drunken men and women, in addition to prostitutes, walk in the early hours of the morning unaware of their actions and not caring if they offend others,” he said, referring to an area called Juffair.

Bahrain is known for its buzzing nightlife scene and attracts many visitors from its more conservative Gulf neighbors, due in part to the country’s relatively relaxed rules on the sale of alcohol.

Bahrain is not the only GCC country in which issues of culture and conservatism have come to a head. This past week has seen a Qatari campaign urging tourists and foreign residents to respect the country’s strict dress code sparking controversy among its majority expatriate population.

While some expats seem unperturbed by the campaign, others expressed discontent.

One American man living in Qatar, who preferred not to be identified, said the dress code should only apply to “religious and official places.”

“It is completely understandable to ask expats to dress appropriately in religious and official locations but not in malls, beaches or souqs, commonly known for being the first attractions of expats,” he said.

Meanwhile, tourists and residents in Kuwait may no longer be able to strut their stuff in bikinis, after a proposal to ban the nudity of women in swimming pools and public places was approved, according to a report on Wednesday.

The head of the Kuwaiti National Assembly committee who approved the move, MP Hamdan al-Azemi, said the ban also applies to women at hotels, according to the Kuwait Times.

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