(Posted from The Publeconomist, published 12/24/09)
For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Economist, its articles are split up into different sections, some of them geographical. I’m embarrassed to admit that I often skip most of the Middle East & Africa section. Although I’m interested in news from the Middle East, most of it is the depressing discussion of on-going war, terrorism, political turmoil, repression, and what can seem like a never-ending cycle of destruction. Africa brings similar news, with a constant flow of stories from the Congo’s troubled east, Somalia’s collapsing government, and rising crime in Nigeria (I won’t even get started on Zimbabwe)…
However, any article with the word booze in the title is sure to get my attention!
In the most recent Economist, a story entitled “The battle for booze” gave a brief and fascinating description of the struggles of the alcohol trade in Basra, Iraq’s largest southern city. Before a year-and-a-half-ago when the Iraqi army liberated Basra, the city was dominated by Islamic militants who outlawed the sale of alcohol. Since then, Iraqi entrepreneurs have been trying to reestablish liquor stores, amidst threats by radicals who still linger in and outside the city.
When I first read this article, I was at first proud that I live in a country with so many freedoms. Second, I was proud that not only do I have the freedom to buy alcohol, but I don’t have to worry that I’ll get murdered (for religious reasons) if I open a liquor shop.
Religions are often judged by their ratio of assholes to open-minded, and therefore I truly do sympathize with all the good Muslims who are trying to promote education and freedom, but can’t seem to convince the world that there really is an ideological dichotomy in the Islamic world. The attached Economist article makes a beautiful effort of revealing this dichotomy: between the progressive Iraqis who are trying to bring enjoyable products to market, and the fewer, repressive Iraqis, who constantly try to hurt the system.
I’ll be having two drinks tonight for all the good people in Iraq. You have every right to sell alcohol, and every right to drink alcohol.
Anthony DiFiore, Publisher
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