Wine in times of ISIS

June 29, 2018 at 6:06 am

Salahadin, June 2018, youths buy alcohol in the shop of Ashur’s father. Photo: KirkukNow

Salahadin, June 2018, youths buy alcohol in the shop of Ashur’s father. Photo: KirkukNow

Karwan Salhi – Shargat
Not so long ago, Muhammad Badri used to search every corner and alley seeking Ashur’s father. To relieve some of his concerns, he wanted to use the help of some liquor, and it could only be done through Ashur’s father. Longer ago, he had to pass 125km to reach Tikrit for that purpose.
“No one will have to bear the sin of the other. Let all be free. Whoever wants to go to a mosque, he/she is free, and whoever wants to be drunk, he/she is free. The rule of ISIS is over,” Badri said, when the first liquor store was opened in their district.
Badri is a young man from Shargat in Salahadin province، 125 km north of the province centre. The area suffered four years being overrun by the Islamic State (ISIS). Some semblance of freedom has returned to the town now, including the freedom of drinking and opening liquor stores.

Whoever wants to go to a mosque, he/she is free, and whoever wants to be drunk, he/she is free. The rule of ISIS is over

Hurmuz Ashuri, known as Ashur’s father, is already famous in Shargat district. He decided it was no longer necessary to sell liquor from his own car in a clandestine way. He filed a request to the local government of Shargat to establish the first liquor store to sell drinks.
Ashur’s father used to be a resident of Erbil’s Ainkawa, a Christian-majority town. A year after Shargat was liberated from the ISIS by the Iraqi forces, he started implementing his newly-formed idea of opening a liquor store in the town.
“I started with selling liquor in my car and secretly. Young men used to take my number and request liquor by phone, or I sold it on the streets. Later, I decided to sell it publicly,” said Ashur’s father.
He and his Yazidi partner, Dawoud Sleman Brimo, filed a request to the Shargat administration for that purpose and the request was approved by Baghdad later.
“We do our job and do not knock at anyone’s door, nor anyone does that to us. Young men should not visit Tikrit to buy liquor, they can visit us to any preference that they have,” said Ashur’s father.
Before his shop, young men in Shargat used to cross 125 km to the province centre of Tikrit, to obtain liquor.
Badri is one of those young men who is happy with the new liquor store in the town, “We had to buy liquor for an expensive fare in Tikrit in the past, or to seek all alleys for the car of Ashur’s father.:”
In times of ISIS in 2014 to 2017, individual freedoms evaporated overnight, or limited to a great extent, among them was dealing with liquor, the punishment for which was execution.

Salahadin, June 2018, Ashur’s father established the first shop to sell alcohol publicly in Shargat. Photo: KirkukNow

Salahadin, June 2018, Ashur’s father established the first shop to sell alcohol publicly in Shargat. Photo: KirkukNow

The liquor store of Ashur’s father is the first of its kind after ISIS rule.
Located 125 km north of Tikrit, the centre of Salahadin province, Shargat witnessed ISIS massacres, and its people fled or in some cases, were abducted.
The mayor of Shargat district Ali Dodah welcomed the liquor store, telling KirkukNow, “We did not prevent them, and they could obtain a license from the tourism ministry to open the shop. If a youth tends to drink, he/she’ll drink anyway. Thus, they should not go far away for that.”
Criticizing ISIS ideology and their influence on young people, Dodah, who is at the same time a preacher and imam of one of the mosques of Shargat said, “It’s better for the youths to be drunk rather than behead people.”

In times of ISIS, one could hardly obtain liquor, buying it secretly and in fear from those who were close to ISIS themselves

The liquor store has become a sensation among people, as it is the first time to see it in the town since the fall of former regime Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Shargat used to have a special drinking club in the 1970s, called Culture Club of Shargat.
Ali Dodah said, “The club was for families, and there was no trouble for that. We have thought about reopening it once again. However, it requires time as the club is used as a military headquarter by the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).”
PMF was founded amidst the ISIS war, as a popular movement to fight against the ISIS militants.
Dodah says a positive aspect of opening the shop is that they can monitor the quality of its items, “The youths did not budge about the quality in the past. It was more important for them to have some [drink], now we can monitor the price even.”
Badri said, “Now, no one is preventing liquor. People are free, and no one is punished. In times of ISIS, one could hardly obtain liquor, buying it secretly and in fear from those who were close to ISIS themselves.”

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