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Egypt moves to ban alcohol sales

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Egypt's Islamic government will no longer be issuing alcohol permits and will not renew existing ones in certain areas of Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities, an official has said.

"NUCA has stopped renewing licenses to sell alcohol but the current ones will continue until they expire," Nabil Abbas, the vice president of the New Urban Communities Authorities (NUCA) told Reuters on Sunday. "Representatives of the residents in new suburbs complained that the sale of alcohol leads to problems including attacking women and randomly ringing doorbells of people's homes."

But some Egyptians see it as more of an infringement on personal liberties than a measure to protect citizens.

"First this Islamist government will ban alcohol in the new urban communities, then slowly they will try to start banning it elsewhere and then God knows what's next," Dina Fahmy, a 30-year-old interior designer, told Reuters.

The Egyptian government ruled earlier this month to suspend YouTube for 30 days for posting a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad.

Reuters reports that a satirical poster had circulated online Sunday in response to the new alcohol rules. It included road accidents, police brutality and poverty then showed a cartoon of President Mohamed Morsi dressed as Superman, saying "Must save Egypt from porn, alcohol and YouTube."

Other Egyptians are concerned the alcoholic sales ban will negatively impact tourism, an already struggling industry amid the country's safety concerns for foreigners, especially Western.

"The fear where tourism is concerned is not of banning alcohol stores. The fear is that alcohol would be banned from hotels which would impact foreign tourists, and in restaurants it could also impact Arab tourists," Karim Mohsen, managing director of tourism firm Sylvia Tours, told Reuters.

The Islamic government attempted to raise taxes on alcohol in December but backed down after receiving heavy criticism.

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