The Turkish parliament has approved controversial legislation to ban the sale and advertising of alcohol.
The Islamist-rooted ruling AK party says the law will protect the population, particularly young people, from the harmful effects of alcohol.
Critics say it is a new move to impose an Islamic agenda on a secular, though predominantly Muslim, country.
The law bans the sale of alcoholic drinks between 22:00 and 06:00 and bans producers from sponsoring events.
To take effect, the law must be signed by President Abdullah Gul, but the politician – a member of the ruling AKP – is expected to do so soon.
Diageo Plc, the world’s largest distiller of alcoholic beverages, has expressed concern about the legislation.
In 2011, Diageo bought Mey Icki, a producer of the traditional Turkish spirit raki, for $2.1 billion.
Diageo Plc said this week it had bought the company in the belief it was investing in a country “that encouraged foreign investment”.
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who does not drink or smoke, said recently that ayran, a non-alcoholic yoghurt drink, was the “national drink” of the Turks
In other points of the new law:
- Alcohol sales will be prohibited within 100 metres (yards) of mosques and schools
- Images of alcoholic drinks will have to be blurred on television – something that is already done for cigarettes
- There will be stricter penalties for drink-driving, with drunken drivers with a blood alcohol level above 0.1% facing up to two years’ imprisonment
- All liquor bottles will have to display warning signs about the harm of alcohol
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who does not drink or smoke, said recently that ayran, a non-alcoholic yoghurt drink, was the “national drink” of the Turks.
AKP politician Lutfu Elva, head of the planning and budget commission, defended the law, saying similar restrictions were in place in Scandinavian countries.
But Musa Cam, an MP from the main opposition party, the CHP, said: “No one can be forced to drink or not to drink. This is a religious and ideological imposition.”
Quoted in an article in Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Musa Cam said: “This is not a struggle against the ills of alcohol but an attempt to redesign the society according to their [AK party] beliefs and lifestyle.”
Hasip Kaplan, a Kurdish MP, warned the law would hurt tourism, which “can’t recover easily once collapsed”, the state-run Anatolia news agency reports.
Football’s world governing body, FIFA, has insisted beer must be sold at all venues hosting matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said the right to sell beer must be enshrined in a World Cup law the Brazilian Congress is considering.
Alcoholic drinks are currently banned at Brazilian stadiums and the country’s health minister has urged Congress to maintain the ban in the new law.
Brewer Budweiser is a big FIFA sponsor.
Jerome Valcke is visiting Brazil to press for progress on the much-delayed World Cup law.
FIFA has become frustrated, because voting on the legislation has been held up in Congress by the dispute over alcohol sales.
FIFA has insisted beer must be sold at all venues hosting matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
The Brazilian government has also failed to resolve differences with FIFA over cut-price tickets for students and senior citizens, and demands for sponsors of the World Cup to have their trademarks protected.
In remarks to journalists in Rio de Janeiro, Jerome Valcke sounded frustrated with Brazilian officials.
“Alcoholic drinks are part of the Fifa World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate,” he said.
“The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law.”
Alcohol was banned at Brazilian football matches in 2003 as part of attempts to tackle violence between rival football fans.
But the measures have had limited impact.
In order to drink, supporters tend to stay longer outside stadiums, areas that are harder to police than inside.
Much of the football violence in Brazil stems from club rivalries. Fans who follow the national side tend to be wealthier and include more women and families.
Health Minister Alexandre Padilha and other members of Congress have called for the ban to be maintained.
Jerome Valcke said negotiations with Brazil over details of the World Cup had been slow.
“We lost a lot of time and we were not able to discuss with people in charge that are willing to make a decision,” he said, adding that it was the first time a country was still in talks five years after winning the right to host the tournament.
During his visit to Brazil, Jerome Valcke has been touring the stadiums in 12 cities where the 2014 World Cup will be played.
Jerome Valcke criticized the pace of construction and said Brazil had not yet improved its infrastructure to the level needed to welcome visitors.