Turkey bans alcohol ads and curbs sales, secularists critical
Turkey banned alcohol advertising and tightened restrictions on its sale on Friday, drawing criticism from secular Turks as well as the country’s brewing industry.
The new law includes a ban on shops selling alcohol from 10pm to 6am, with fines of up to 500,000 lira ($270,000) for owners and operators of venues that violate the law, and a possible one-year jail sentence for selling to minors.
Turkey is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation with a secular constitution, but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK party has come under fire from some quarters for undermining the separation of state and religion in the country.
Since coming to power in 2002, the government has taken various measures against alcohol, the consumption of which is forbidden by Islam. Tax on alcohol has soared and flag carrier Turkish Airlines has stopped serving alcohol on some domestic flights.
“Religion-linked restrictions are contrary to secularism,” political commentator Nazli Ilicak wrote on Twitter. “I am not defending alcohol but freedom.
“Not even beer will be sold after 10pm. We can’t consider this normal … I see it as an excessive intervention and an ideological stance.”
The government, meanwhile, says it is trying to bring Turkey up to European norms by controlling alcohol sales and protecting the younger generation as it negotiates to enter the EU.
“There are such regulations everywhere in the world. The youth of a nation should be protected from bad habits,” Erdogan said in a meeting with party members.