We’ll drink to your health!

We’ll drink to your health!

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is technically right when he says that the latest restrictions on the consumption, sale and advertising of booze do not constitute a total ban. He is also right when he says that similar restrictions are in effect in (some) Western countries too. But he is just not being honest when he says that his unrelenting efforts to minimize alcohol’s public visibility are not motivated by the dictates of Islam.

He is also scientifically blind when he blames most of Turkey’s maladies, from road accidents to crime rates and diseases, on the mere 1.5 liters of alcohol consumption per person annually. One would be just too frightened to imagine how health statistics, death figures by road accidents and crime rates in Turkey would look like if the Turks consumed, like in most of Europe, eight to 12 liters per person annually.

This is a classic example of a corrupted interpretation of Islam, in which the Islamist can just not tolerate other people’s right to sin. Hence, we’ve been ordered to drink at home, with no witness to our sins. It’s just like how few Islamists really care when a Muslim cheats, steals or kills – as long as the act is not seen by others.

Or, just like Harry, my pious Muslim Malaysian friend “from the good old days of Guildford,” who we once came across at a bar in a neighboring town; Harry, the good Malaysian friend, relishing his Scotch, half-drunk, all smiles and explaining to us, two appalled Turks: “It isn’t sinning as long as no one has seen him drinking.” What about us? No, we don’t count as Muslims, since we have the habit of drinking in our native town. Our native town in Britain? Yes. The town of our residence. We left the bar to leave Harry in peace and freedom to sin without being seen, perhaps a platter of ham to eat or a bargain with a prostitute? We never knew.

More problematic than the legislation on new restrictions was the way the prime minister defended it. “Given that a law made by a couple of drunken [people] is respected, why should a law that is commanded by religion be rejected?” he asked, sparking, naturally, the question about who exactly the “drunken lawmakers” could be. It referred to no one, his spokesman, Hüseyin Çelik, clarified: “The prime minister said that in a manner of speaking.” Good.

And I ask: Given that several laws made by a bunch of Sharia-loving, sick-minded, terrorist-sympathizing Islamists are respected, why should laws made by a couple of drunken [people] be condemned? You might wonder who are those Sharia-loving, sick-minded, terrorist-sympathizing Islamists. You guessed well: No one. I just said that in a manner of speech.

Meanwhile, the prime minister should instruct his advisors to have a more thorough analysis into the “sin market” in Muslim countries where alcohol consumption is strictly banned, or extremely regulated. Any fair report will show that some of these countries boast the world’s quickest access to drugs. If the prime minister does not intend to give an unwanted boost to the Turkish narcotics market, he should think twice before further regulating the booze market.

Another useful report to be put on His Majesty’s desk could contain statistics on alcohol consumption in Turkey by provinces, which will clearly show how per capita alcohol consumption is surprisingly high in some “extremely conservative cities,” where one would not find even a single restaurant with an alcohol license.

Have no worries, prime minister; the Turks already have a social code of consuming generous quantities of alcohol in their homes. And you can have your peace of mind: We will keep on drinking at home. And always to your health!