Iran General NewsIranian hardliners get tough on booze

Iranian hardliners get tough on booze

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AFP: Iran’s hardline parliament voted Sunday to toughen up punishments for alcohol makers and traffickers, just days after their speaker had a run-in with Belgium over booze. Official media said the new law, passed on its first reading, would leave producers and dealers of alcoholic beverages subject to between three months and one year behind bars, 74 lashes and fines.
AFP

TEHRAN – Iran’s hardline parliament voted Sunday to toughen up punishments for alcohol makers and traffickers, just days after their speaker had a run-in with Belgium over booze.

Official media said the new law, passed on its first reading, would leave producers and dealers of alcoholic beverages subject to between three months and one year behind bars, 74 lashes and fines.

Traffickers will also face up to two years in jail, the state news agency IRNA said. Judges are also prevented from giving suspended jail terms for alcohol crimes, while state employees who offend also face suspension.

This effectively doubles the jail terms risked by Iranians who dare to flout the Islamic republic’s booze ban, although the punishment for drinking remains unchanged.

“This vote is in line with what happened in Belgium,” said Gholam Ali Hadad-Adel, the ultra-conservative speaker of Iran’s parliament.

Last week he forced his Belgium counterpart to cancel a lunch in his honour after insisting that no alcohol be on the table, even for the Belgians. A Belgian parliament spokesman said “we didn’t want to bow to outside rules”.

After his diplomatic spat, Hadad-Adel was clearly animated during the parliamentary debate and shouted at some 33 deputies who were present but did not vote when told to.

“Is it too difficult to move your fingers and press your buttons?” he asked in the session, which was also carried live on state radio.

The law is subject to a second reading in parliament, and then the approval of the Guardians Council — a hardline unelected watchdog that screens all legislation.

Iran and the Persians have a long history of alcohol drinking, and consumption is still strong despite the ban imposed after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

There is a bustling black market for alcohol illegally imported from neighbouring countries, and many Iranians also make their own sometimes lethal home brews.

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