Booze disappearing from Baghdad as Islamist power rises

Protestors last week gathered outside the Iraqi Writers Union building in al-Wattanabi in the city center, carrying signs that read “Freedom first” and “Baghdad won’t be Kandahar,” a reference to the stronghold of Taliban fundamentalists in Afghanistan. Demonstrators accused the government of implementing repressive policies that restrict individual rights.

For the protestors, the demonstration was about more than just alcohol. In a statement sent to the Iraqi leaders, protesters urged the government to defend pluralism in Iraq. Hussein added that people on the street expressed sympathy with his organization’s protest…

Christians and Yazidi-Kurds, the latter members of a religion with ancient Indo-Iranian roots, are the only religious groups legally allowed to sell alcohol in Iraq. But as their numbers dwindle in the wake of anti-Christian violence, secular Iraqis – Muslim and non-Muslim alike — fear that a full-blown prohibition will soon be in place as social clubs close down and liquor store owners flee.