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Alcoholic lockdown. Scandal in Turkey

Many citizens considered this an attack on their rights

A two-week quarantine has begun in Turkey, during which the country's authorities have completely banned the sale of alcohol. Officials say that alcoholic beverages exacerbate the number of infections and contribute to the violation of social distance, but many citizens are sure that the ban has nothing to do with the coronavirus, but is an extension of the Islamic aspirations of the President Erdogan.

On Thursday, April 29, due to the high rate of spread of the coronavirus, Turkey was closed for a full lockdown. The country's authorities took this step after the Ministry of Health registered more than 37 thousand new cases of infection on April 26.

Until May 17, Turkish citizens will be able to go outside only for trips to the nearest store, pharmacy, or hospital. The rest of the time, everyone except key life support workers are ordered to stay at home. Schools and universities will switch to online training, and you will need a pass to travel on public transport.

At the same time, all grocery and chain stores in the country stopped selling alcohol. The ban on alcohol is already a familiar measure for the Turkish quarantine. Before that, the Turks could not buy hot drinks on Saturdays and Sundays because of the regular lockdown on these days. Against the background of the new restrictions, alcohol will not be sold for more than two weeks, until the end of the introduced measures.

“Hands off alcohol”

The day after the announcement of the new lockdown by President Tayyip Erdogan, the hashtag #alkolumedokunma, which literally translates as “don't touch my alcohol,” rose in the trends of Turkish Twitter.

Thousands of users of the social network expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the government left them without alcohol for the entire quarantine. The ban was called an attack on freedoms, as well as a sentence for the owners of alcohol stores, who may simply not survive the new wave of restrictions. Many of the users also doubted that the ban on alcohol is somehow connected with the coronavirus, considering this decision ideological.

As the well-known Turkish journalist Nevsin Mengu, who has 1.9 million followers, wrote on Twitter, the ban on alcohol is a serious violation of civil rights.

“Just because the president doesn't like alcohol, now it's banned all over the country, it's unheard of,” Mengu said.

The Republican People's Party (CHP), one of the country's largest opposition political forces, also agreed with her.

“This restriction has nothing to do with the pandemic. It is completely ideologized, “ Bloomberg quotes the words of the MP from the RNP Veli Ababa. “And this is another example of the ruling Justice and Development Party interfering in people's lives,” the politician stressed.

In Turkey, President Erdogan is often accused of imposing Islamic values on the country. Despite the fact that the head of state himself has repeatedly stated his secular beliefs, many of his decisions are perceived as dictated by religion. This includes the lifting of the ban on wearing headscarves in state institutions, and the active construction of imam-khatib schools and mosques, one of which was recently turned into the Hagia Sophia Temple. Earlier, the president's party tried to ban abortions in the country and create “non-alcoholic zones”.

Against this background, the two-week ban of the authorities on the sale of alcohol, which coincided with the holy month of Ramadan for Muslim people, again alerted the defenders of secular Turkey.

Blow to business

Liquor suppliers say they have already lost tens of thousands of dollars due to coronavirus restrictions. Before the closure of the country for a new lockdown, Al-Monitor journalists visited five alcohol markets in the center of Istanbul and talked with their owners. All shopkeepers are preparing for hard times.

“How is alcohol-related to COVID?” — the publication quotes the words of one of the owners of the alcohol market. “I don't understand why they introduce such a ban along with social distancing measures... This does not solve the problem in any way, but only creates even more trouble for us, since we have to pay the bills regardless of the restrictions, “ the source said.

In another store, journalists were told that before the start of the next lockdown, their sales almost doubled.

“People are stocking up, and we can't do anything about the decision of the authorities. We will be closed in the next two weeks, and I hope that we can hold out until the restrictions are lifted.”

“This is clearly a blow to privacy and the culture of food and drink,” Ozgur Abbas, president of the association that represents Turkish wine shops, wrote on Twitter. “The coronavirus is an excuse.”

Last-resort goods

According to a Turkish official, quoted by the publication Middle East Eye, the new lockdown assumes that only stores with essential goods will remain open in Turkey.

“It is obvious that wine shops are not among them,” the source said.

“We had to close the liquor sections in supermarkets because the owners of the liquor stores will complain about unfair competition because they themselves will not be able to work.”

At the same time, it is not very clear why the quarantine will remain open, for example, stores with nuts, which also can hardly be called a basic necessity.

As the Middle East Eye clarifies, the decision on alcohol will not affect manufacturers who can directly sell alcohol-containing products over the Internet or by phone, delivering orders to their homes. But it is obvious that the prices for these drinks will be much higher than those that people are used to in stores.

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