KRG Imposes No Restriction On Christian Bars during Ramadan of Kurdistan

Romi Shop sells alcoholic beverages in the Christian neighborhood of Ankawa in Erbil. Photo by Wladimir van Wilgunburg for Rudaw
ANKAWA, Iraqi Kurdistan: Officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and publicans have refuted a news report by a local news service that liquor stores and bars in the Christian town of Ankawa are supposed to be closed during Ramadan.

Earlier this week AK News cited Sirwan Faris, general manager in the Erbil Governorate, saying that all the pubs including those of Ankawa had to be closed, anyone violating the order would be subjected to prosecution.

The governor of Erbil Nawzad Hadi ruled out Faris’s statement, saying that their order to close the bars did not include the Christian town of Ankawa.

“They may do it by themselves. Muslims and Christians here respect each other,” said Hadi. “It’s not by the law.”

Rudaw’s visit to Ankawa confirmed governor’s statement seeing many bars open. Romi Shop and Beirut Bar were two such examples.

Sirwan Faruq, shopkeeper selling alcoholic beverages, said that he had not received any order from the government to end his business during Ramadan.

“There are even some Muslims coming here. They keep coming and say ‘Salaam Aleykum” Faruq said.

“Some people themselves close their bars out of respect to Ramadan, but others keep their bars open.”

“In Ankawa everybody is free,” said Huday Mty Abda, 33, a waiter who had fled Baghdad to Erbil for security reasons. “There are some people preferring to cover their shops by curtains.”

Erbil’s Police Chief, Abdul Khaliq, also said that no Christian was to be arrested for leaving their bars and restaurants open.

“We are not obliging anyone to close their bars. They do that by themselves.”

“Historically Christians of Ankawa have respected Muslims. Without any government involvement, some Christians close their bars.”

Ramadan is a holy month to Muslims. They refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn until sunset.

This year Ramadan began on Wednesday, August 11.