A radical Islamist party in Turkey has expressed support for a recent ban on alcohol consumption in public places in İstanbul, saying that such a ban should be enforced across the entire country, local media reported on Tuesday.
A circular, titled “Sale of Alcohol and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages,” was issued Aug. 17 by the İstanbul Governor’s Office, specifically calling for a ban on alcohol consumption on waterfronts and beaches and in parks and picnic and recreation areas.
The circular also provides penalties for violations. Those who “disturb the environment” by consuming alcohol can be fined up to 617 Turkish lira ($23.14).
The reason given for these “preventive measures” is incidents involving people under the influence of alcohol.
Yunus Emiroğlu, spokesperson for the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), congratulated İstanbul Governor Davut Gül for his “bold decision” regarding the circular.
Emiroğlu said the decision to ban alcohol consumption in public areas should be implemented throughout the country and that it should be regulated by law, not just by a circular.
“Furthermore, it is imperative to prohibit licensed establishments from selling alcoholic beverages in public areas since it’s a necessity in the fight against crime and criminals. This is because the consumption of alcoholic beverages … disrupts public order, leads to incidents of violence and murder, causes family breakdowns and corrupts society,” the spokesperson said.
According to the governor’s office, the decision was prompted by complaints of disturbances to public order and the disruption of public peace and security within the province’s boundaries. The circular claimed that those causing such disturbances were often found to be under the influence of alcohol.
The circular was issued amid a series of other stringent alcohol-related measures in Turkey. The government has previously prohibited liquor shops from selling alcoholic beverages after 10 p.m., and the tax rates on alcoholic drinks have significantly increased over the years.
HÜDA-PAR won three seats in the Turkish parliament in May, thanks to its alliance with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The alliance between the AKP and HÜDA-PAR has faced harsh criticism due to the latter’s alleged ties to Hizbullah, an extremist group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, and for its regressive stance on social issues. Critics argue that such an alliance contradicts the principles of a democratic society. Hizbullah has been accused of kidnappings, torture and targeted assassinations, predominantly aimed at individuals linked to Kurdish political movements.