Parliament approves ban on sale of alcohol at night

Parliament approves ban on sale of alcohol at night

Parliament approves ban on sale of alcohol at night

Turkish Parliament's General Assembly started to debate the controversial alcohol bill May 23. AA photo

Parliament's General Assembly  has approved a ban on the retail sale of alcoholic drinks after 10 p.m. in new amendments to an alcohol bill on May 23.

According to the new ban proposed by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), retailers won't be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The opposition parties strongly criticized the amendments, noting that such a ban should not include touristic regions. "[Alcohol] banned during night prayers, but allowed during morning prayers," a Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy said about the proposition.

The head of the Planning and Budget Commission, Lütfü Elvan of the AKP, said that such restrictions were in place in many Western countries. "This approach of night prayers and morning prayers saddened me. In Sweden, [the retail sale of alcohol] is forbidden after 7 p.m. on weekdays, 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 24 hours in Sundays. There are similar restrictions in all Scandinavian countries," he said.

The amendments also restrict the use of alcohol in TV series, movies and music videos. Images of alcohol would be blurred, the same way as cigarettes.

Bill rushed to vote

The ruling AKP had acted remarkably fast in bringing the alcohol ban to the agenda of Parliament's General Assembly, within a period of a mere two days. The Planning and Budget Commission concluded drafting the proposal at midnight on May 21 and the proposal was swiftly carried despite objections from the opposition.

Elvan had granted the opposition a reclamation period which ended at 10 a.m. on May 23.

Afterward, the AKP proposed altering the agenda to replace a draft petroleum law with the proposal to legislate the sale of alcohol.

AKP deputy parliamentary group chair Ahmet Aydın confirmed that they intended to enact the law within two days.

Such immediate action on the alcohol ban infuriated the opposition, as the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) parliamentary deputy group chair Akif Hamzaçebi criticized the impetuous approach.

"There is an understanding that intervenes in the fields of private life," Hamzaçebi said.

On May 10, the AKP proposed harsher measures related to alcohol, banning all sorts of advertising and obliging producers to include information about the risks of alcohol on the packaging of every unit. Alongside this, alcohol producers will no longer be allowed to sponsor cultural festivals. If the bill is approved, education, sports and health institutions, as well as establishments next to highways, will be prevented from selling alcoholic drinks