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Residents of Iraqi Kurdistan stock up on spirits as Ramadan kicks off

Due to the Kurdish region's policy of closing liquor shops during the fasting month of Ramadan, the prices of alcohol on the black market go up, raising the question, especially by Christians, why they have to be penalized by a secular government.
An Iraqi man sits in front to a closed liquor store in Ainkawa, a majority Christian area in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on October 13, 2015.
 / AFP / SAFIN HAMED        (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

While Iraqi security forces were busy clearing the last pockets of Islamic State-controlled areas in Mosul and the wider public in Iraq was bracing for 30 days of fasting from dawn to dusk, 37-year-old police officer Abdullah had a more pressing issue at hand. 

"Could I have three cases of Budweiser beer [72 cans] and two bottles of Araq," Abdullah asked the shop owner at Sarkarez neighborhood in the city of Sulaimaniyah on May 25, two days before fasting officially began. Like thousands of others, Abdullah was stocking up on booze because authorities in the Kurdish region force liquor shops to close during Ramadan, leaving many consumers with the options of either buying a large quantity of booze beforehand or trying to find their way around the black market that emerges as the fasting begins. "I buy the alcohol now because it is much easier; it is too much of a headache to beg black market dealers during the fasting to sell you alcohol." 

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