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'Islamic fascism' fears in Turkish booze crackdown

Turkey is to restrict the sale and advertising of alcohol, prompting an outcry from people concerned about the creeping Islamisation of the country.

Members of Turkey's Islamist-leaning government, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have approved the curbs in which shops will be banned from selling alcohol from 10pm to 6am.

Although similar restrictions are in place in some European countries, including Ireland, the legislation also bans the advertising of alcohol.

Broadcasters will need to blur out bottles and glasses of alcohol being drunk by characters in television shows.

Drinks companies will not be allowed to sponsor events at which their drinks can be sold, such as concerts or football matches, and new liquor licences will not be issued to establishments within 100 metres of a school or religious institution.

The manager of one liquor shop in Istanbul's central Beyoglu district, famed for its boozy nightlife, described the ban as "Islamic fascism".

Erdeniz Ucan (28) accused the government of being "anti-secularist" and wanting to "manipulate society".

"Smoking is bad, drinking alcohol is bad, praying is good? . . . I think they will continue brainwashing people with these regulations," he said.

While 99pc of Turkey's citizens are Muslim, secularism has been written into the constitution since the times of Ataturk.

However, a decade of rule by Mr Erdogan and his popular Justice and Development Party (AKP), has eroded the power of secularists and pushed the role of Islam to the forefront of the national debate.

Mr Erdogan rejected criticism of the new legislation saying the restrictions were good for Turkey's youth.

"We do not want a generation that drinks night and day," he said. "They have to be sharp, they have to be equipped with knowledge. We want such a generation and we are taking steps in this regard."

It remains unclear whether the restrictions will make foreign tourists stay away. More than 30 million foreigners visit Turkey every year.

The health ministry has said that the ban will not affect bars and restaurants, including those in hotels.

Ghislain Sireilles, of Cachet Travel, a London-based tourism operator that works in Turkey, said that while Mr Erdogan had taken many positive steps for Turkey, there was another side that was a "bit worrying", such as the restrictions on alcohol. "It makes Turkey look a little more fundamentalist." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent