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What's really behind Iraq's new alcohol ban?

The Iraqi parliament's ban on the production, import and sale of alcoholic beverages of all kinds has raised a broad protest among religious minorities, individuals and civil societies.
Bottles of alcohol are seen at a wine shop in Baghdad, Iraq, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad - RTX2MX00

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi parliament's surprise decision to ban alcohol is raising challenges from many quarters, both for the law's content and the way it was passed. Some critics also say politicians intend to use the ban to their advantage on the black market.

While the rest of the country was focused on the fierce military battle to drive the Islamic State (IS) from Mosul, the Iraqi parliament declared its own war by passing the new law Oct. 23, banning all production, imports and sales of alcoholic beverages of all kinds. The law stipulates that violators will have to pay a fine of no less than 10 million dinars ($8,500) and no more than 25 million dinars ($21,000).

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