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BURAK BEKDİL > The mother of all evil (III)

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The first two parts of this mini series were an attempt to examine the validity of the passionately devout Muslim’s claims that “even a drop of alcohol” would prevent students from finding knowledge on campus. Appartently, it would make drinkers grossly unhealthy, thereby subjecting the entire society to additional economic burdens by means of increased spending on healthcare, thus unfairly putting that extra burden on non-drinkers. Additionally, the view that demonizes alcohol maintains that “even a drop of alcohol” can lead to fatal road accidents and maladaptive social behavior. But, how true is that?

First, let’s recall the per capita alcohol consumption figures in a number of “drunk” and “sober” countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), per capita alcohol consumption for the “sober” group of countries in 2005 were (these figures have remained stable since then): 1.37 liters in Turkey, 1.56 liters in Sudan, 0.05 liters in Saudi Arabia, 0.01 liters in Pakistan and Libya, 0.02 liters in Iran, 0.06 liters in Indonesia, and zero in Bangladesh.

For the “drunken” countries, the WHO calculated 11.37 liters in Denmark, 11.67 liters in Britain, 8.95 liters in Greece, 10.22 liters in Spain, 10.56 liters in Switzerland, 6.21 liters in Norway, 12.6 liters in Austria, and 9.55 liters in Holland.

Now that that is straight, let’s move on to the devout Muslim’s claim that “even a drop of alcohol” is intolerable because it would cause fatal road accidents.

1. According to official statistics, only three percent of fatal road accidents in Turkey are related to excessive consumption of alcohol.

2. Fatal road accidents per 100,000 vehicles are 97.1 in Turkey, 6,300 in Bangladesh, 86.3 in Saudi Arabia, 204 in Iran, 2,300 in Pakistan and 139 in Libya vs. seven in Switzerland and Holland (two randomly selected European countries – in fact, you will get similar alcohol consumption and accident figures for most of western Europe). From this we can conclude that:

a. The world champion in fatal road accidents is Bangladesh where alcohol consumption is zero.

b. There are 329 times more fatal road accidents in Pakistan, where per capita alcohol consumption is 0.01 liters, than in Switzerland and Holland, where per capita alcohol consumption is 10.56 liters and 9.55 liters respectively,

c. There are nearly 14 times as many fatal road accidents in Turkey (with 1.37 liters per capita alcohol consumption) than in Switzerland and Holland (where alcohol consumption is approximately 7.5 times more than in Turkey).

d- Ironically, if alcohol was banned in Turkey and the three percent alcohol-related fatal road accidents never happened, fatal accidents per 100,000 vehicles in Turkey would drop to 93, compared to only seven in “drunken” Europe.

3. Homicide. I am not going to compare figures for honor killings because that concept simply does not exist in “drunken” countries like Canada, New Zealand or Finland (unless committed by immigrants). With 1.37 liters per capita alcohol consumption per annum, Turkey boasted 1,806 honor killings in 2001-2006 while, in addition, 5,375 women committed suicide. In 2011 alone there were over 80,000 reported cases of domestic violence. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the homicide rates are: 3.3 percent in sober Turkey; 0.9 percent in Denmark; 0.3 percent in Iceland; 0.8 percent in Spain, and; 0.7 percent in Switzerland, all not-so-sober countries.

4. Assault. According to the UNODC, assaults per 100,000 of the population in 2008 were 7.5 in Norway (6.21 liters of alcohol), 47 in Austria (12.6 liters of alcohol, 161 in Spain (10.22 liters of alcohol) and 217 in Turkey (1.37 liters of alcohol).

5. Terror. Twelve in the top 25 list of countries with the largest number of terror victims are Muslim countries with extremely limited or no alcohol consumption. Most others were in the top 25 list because of victims of Islamist terror (the U.S., for example, because of 9/11). Apparently, the terrorist does not need to drink to kill people and peace.

6. Work safety. In 2011, 1,563 people were killed in workplace accidents in Turkey, making the Crescent and Star the number one in Europe and number three in the world. In 2008, nearly 1,500 people were killed in workplace accidents in “sober” Turkey, compared to 4,800 in the entire “drunken” EU-27.

So, dear pious, try to do two things: 1. Mind your own business and keep on abstaining from alcohol, but leave others alone. 2. Stop pathetically trying to hide behind arguments that a drop of alcohol will damage our health and destroy the peace in our oh–so-peaceful societies.

Acknowledgement: I am grateful to the International Booze Smugglers’ Association and Sinners Anonymous for sponsoring this three-part series, with two cases of fine wine.

October/03/2012

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