Iraq police raid secret casinos serving alcohol, arresting almost 200 – Middle East Monitor

Iraqi police, last night, arrested almost 200 people in raids on illegal casinos where gambling took place and where alcohol was served, amid a crackdown on such behaviour during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

According to Iraqi Interior Minister spokesman, Saad Maan, yesterday, police launched raids across the capital, Baghdad, overnight, targeting four locations where games of blackjack and roulette had been practiced and bottles of alcohol were present.

An official at the Ministry, who spoke to the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, said that the police arrested 159 Iraqi citizens and 32 foreigners, including women. The police also seized large amounts of cash at the hideouts.

Iraqi authorities have cracked down on the sale and consumption of alcohol in the country in recent years, especially during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Iraq’s Parliament passed a law prohibiting the import, sale and manufacture of all alcoholic beverages back in 2016, but that law only began to be enforced earlier this year.

Despite the fact that it is flouted by many, and that liquor stores are allowed to operate and sell alcohol throughout the country, the prohibition has been a controversial issue and has been condemned by many activists and international news outlets which insist that Iraq should uphold secular values.

It has also raised concern amongst minority groups in the country, as most shops that sell alcohol are owned by non-Muslims such as Christians and Yazidis.

READ: Ramadan TV series banned for ‘insulting’ Iraqis

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