Sun, May 26, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Egyptian society pressuring liquor shops to close

BY Haitam El-Tabei  /  AFP, CAIRO

“I am for a ban because it’s forbidden [in Islam] and it’s against our customs, regardless of the Islamists being in power,” Shaimaa Hassan said.

Mohammed Zeidan, a spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party — the political arm of the Brotherhood — insists that in Islam “what is allowed is clear and what is banned is clear.”

He said the current laws do not represent the views of the party.

“The laws that would satisfy us will be drafted by the people through their members of parliament,” Zeidan said.

Egypt has been without a parliament for almost a year after a top court declared it unconstitutional for technical reasons. During this time, the price of a bottle of beer in Egypt has risen from 7.5 Egyptian pounds (US$1.07) to almost 12 pounds.

According to the budget for this year, the Egyptian government expects tax revenues of about 1 billion pounds from beer alone, six times the amount of the previous budget.

“Of course raising taxes on beer can be seen as a restriction, but it also leads to more revenue for the government,” economist Mahmud Negm said. “The figures show that the Egyptian government needs Egyptians to drink more beer and not restrict them.”

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