Alcohol, Prostitution Rife in New Iraq
By Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent
Bars, pubs and liquor stores are now back and proliferating in Iraq.
BAGHDAD — After disappearing for the past six years, sin and vice are now running rife in the streets of the Iraqi capital.
"Sin is part of Baghdadis' lives again," Fadilla Muhammed, member of a group campaigning for family traditions and morals, told IslamOnline.net.
Bars, pubs and liquor stores, once shut down by militant groups, are back to business and proliferating.
Prostitution homes have reopened, and in many of them, prostitutes troll for clients.
In downtown Baghdad, cinemas infamous for showing sex-themed movies while spectators engage in actual sexual relations in their chairs or in the bathrooms are re-opening.
Although less common, women are found inside such movie theaters, offering themselves or their own daughters for clients.
"Today, after the invasion and many attempts to shut down such places, they came back with strength," notes Muhammed.
According to Mustafa al-Ghadhun, a senior Health Ministry official, there is an increase in the alcohol consumption and drugs in Iraq.
"There is also a very large consumption of medicines containing codeine and valium derivatives," he told IOL.
"We are concerned about the quantity consumed, as many cases of alcohol addiction have been reported."
Baghdad districts such as Sadr, Alawi, Dora, Bab al-Muadhem and Gazellia have reportedly become hotbeds for drug dealing.
Drug dealers are also especially active in the areas where policing is less present and where militias hold sway.
For those who indulge in all the once-illicit practices, this is what they have wanted the Americans to bring to Iraq.
"It is time to feel liberty and some Western traditions," says Abu Feiraz who is sitting in a café at Karada district with his 17-year-old son playing chess.
"We are adults and responsible for our acts," said the father while pouring more wine in his son’s glass.
He defended the return of alcohol and prostitution as part of the democratic Western lifestyle the US has vowed o bring to Iraq.
"I’m not hurting or destroying the life of anyone."
Sitting in a tavern drinking a glass of wine, Faeq agrees.
"Each human being has the right to decide what he wants for his life."
He argues that many Iraqis like him are tired after years of war and violence and have found in drugs and alcohol a way to run away from problems.
"We can not only be worried about what will happen. We want to have fun after all these years of suffering.
"It is time to live the western life that was one of the gifts the Americans said would bring to us."
But not everyone is happy that sin reared its ugly face back.
Sheikh Ibraheem Ahmed Naffi, a Karada district imam, warns that the new sinful lifestyle would affect thousands of young Iraqis.
"It is a Muslim country and alcohol should be forbidden," he stressed.
"Family values are being lost in Iraq and the government isn’t doing anything to address the problem," he fumed.
"That’s one of the issues that make the difference between us and Westerns."