Iraqi MP: Parties protecting ‘casinos,’ ban alcohol to make profits

Fa’iq Al-Sheikh, member of the liberal Civil Democratic Alliance, some ‘phony Islam’ parties want to make more money by prohibiting alcohol. (Screengrab)

An Iraqi liberal parliamentarian has accused some parties in the country of being behind the recent alcohol ban legislation‎ to make further illegal profits in addition to their hefty income made by "offering protection to bars, nightclubs, casinos and other activities" during a press conference hiscoalition held on Monday.

"We were waiting in the past years for the parliament to pass important legislation, which we were working to make it happen, only to find ourselves surprised by this odd legislation," Fa'iq Al-Sheikh, member of the liberal Civil Democratic Alliance, said, echoing what critics dubbed as an untimely decision as Iraq's biggest military operation in years - to liberate its second largest city of Mosul and the last stronghold for ISIS in the country - entered its second week on Monday.

Sheikh, who is also head of the liberal People's Party, published the video of the press conference on his Facebook page on Tuesday's evening, saying news stations in Iraq only aired some excerpts and not the full press briefing.

The MP, who did not disclose names of what he says "three Shiite parties," added "Long time ago, Iraq had casinos halls incomparable to the ones in [France's] Monte Carlo, which generates on a daily basis an average - in some places which I can not tell you exactly where....two million dollars," describing himself as a non-drinker of alcoholic beverages.

The MP further emphasized that these underground casinos so profitable, they can not even be compared to the ones in "London, Beirut or Monte Carlo."

Citing an unnamed official, who said there are 72 "unofficial" club in Iraq, he said if they were not in business, "how would he be able to give such figure."

"Now they want to ban [Middle Eastern alcoholic spirit] arak, because poppy is being planted in Iraq especially in the south and because million of pills [drugs] are being imported from Iran."

With the sale and consumption being prohibited in Iran, some people there have opted for drugs. According to the UN World Drug Report for 2005, Iran had the highest proportion of opiate addicts in the world -- 2.8 percent of the population over age 15.

Critics of Iran wielding its influence in Iraq, have long warned of an opium addiction trend coming from Iran.

He said the real reason behind the ban is because the profit coming from such activities have decreased this year on the backdrop of low oil prices - Iraq's main income, describing the expected bootlegging and smuggling as the best way to increase their income by "five-fold."

Yonadam Kanna, a veteran Christian MP, told AFP on Saturday that he vowed to appeal the law in a federal law.

Violation of this law incurs a fine of about $8,000 to $20,000.

Iraqi man challenges the law, says in his video: "whisky don't feel mad, tomorrow the mullah will be gone." His video had more than 300 shares on Facebook.





Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49