BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament voted on Saturday to ban alcoholic beverages, lawmakers said, a move that worried Iraqis who see the growing influence of religious parties a threat to freedoms.
Iraq's population is predominantly Shi'ite Muslim, and its society is conservative, with many women wearing the black head-to-toe abaya and most people eschewing alcohol, which is forbidden by Islam.
But alcohol is readily available in dozens of shops, bars and hotels around Baghdad and in some provinces. Though drinking in public is not prohibited, it is frowned upon. In Baghdad, it is not unusual to see youths drinking on the banks of the Tigris.
The proposed alcohol ban is part of a bill on financing municipalities.