Alcohol ban claims grossly untrue, says Hüseyin Çelik

Alcohol ban claims grossly untrue, says Hüseyin Çelik

Hüseyin Çelik

January 13, 2011, Thursday/ 17:43:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik has stated that recent stories in the press that claim a new regulation introducing limitations on the sale of alcoholic beverages is a government attempt to ban alcohol are “gross lies.”

Çelik said the new regulation regarding alcohol is completely in compliance with constitutional, legal and international covenants’ provisions and that it introduced changes that are focused on protecting the individual and the public. Speaking at a press conference at AK Party headquarters in the capital yesterday, Çelik said in the recent days that the media have been running various stories -- such as one that reported that a Mersin school has made it mandatory for their male and female students to stay at least 45 centimeters apart from each other -- intended to alarm people in a way reminiscent of the run-up to the Feb. 28 1997 unarmed military intervention. At the time the media had manufactured stories to scare opponents of the Welfare Party (RP) and to convince them that their way of life was under threat from religious segments of society. He also said in addition to the rumors about the new regulations on the sale of alcohol and the Mersin school story, many writers were trying to associate the prime minister’s outspoken dislike of a monument in the city of Kars as a sign of the government’s alleged religious reactionaryism.

“There is an attempt to create an atmosphere that suggests that our government is intervening in the private lives, tastes and preferences of individual,” Çelik said.

He said the alcohol sale regulation introduced some limitations that were completely in line with the laws and international agreements that Turkey is part of. He also stated that a recent report published in a newspaper on Tuesday claimed that the legal age for buying alcohol was being raised to 24 from 18 was a “great lie.”

Çelik also discussed the recent discussions over Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s referring to a monument in the eastern province of Kars as a “freak show.” He said everybody had to express their like or dislike of a work of art. “This is freedom of thought. You can’t decide how somebody feels about anything. This also applies to the prime minister,” he argued.

He added that the monument had to be demolished because it had been incorrectly built in an area meant for conservation of nature, recalling that the culture minister had also stated that. “It was built in a conservation zone and it will have to be demolished. Why make such a big ruckus out of that?” he asked.

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