Governor office bans alcohol in Turkey’s tourism hub Antalya

Antalya governor’s office has banned drinking alcohol in a ‘disturbing and open’ manner in the province where is an international tourism hub of Turkey. The ban covers parks, beaches, picnic and camping sites, open air public areas, historical sites, city squares, and the like, according to a report by Birgün daily.

The governor’s office have released a written statement about the recent ban on alcohol consumption in the province. According to the statement, consuming alcohol in a ‘disturbing and open’ manner has been banned all across the city in places except for houses and venues licensed to sell alcohol.

While the reason for the ban is explained in the statement as ‘a measure to ensure safety and peace in the city,’ public reaction to the decision grew quickly over social media.

The Antalya Police Department has sparked debate after issuing a statement on April 27 on a ban on alcohol consumption in outdoor locations on possibilities that drinking could cause “disturbance” to the surrounding.

However, officials claimed that a “perception mistake” was made regarding the announcement. Such consumption was not banned totally, but only when it was done in a way to “disturb the surrounding” so as to provide peaceful public places for residents, they said. “There is no new place in Antalya where alcohol consumption is banned,” Antalya Mayor Menderes Türel said.  “Our relevant institutions will issue a statement again if needed,” he said.

The mayor of Antalya’s central Muratpaşa district, Ümit Uysal from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the code should “be immediately regulated,” emphasizing that “It was not right to ban alcohol consumption in picnic areas of tourism’s capital.” “According to whom, according to which event are we going to interpret the expression ‘disturbing?’ This will frankly cause fractions in the society,” Uysal said.

According to the new directive, consumption of alcohol in parks, gardens, open spaces, highways, picnic areas, historical ruins and the interior of all vehicles will be prohibited. The directive also bans the consumption of alcohol in train stations, bus terminals, squares, avenues, streets, historical and cultural venues, places of worship, abandoned structures, construction zones, cemeteries, ATMs, promenades, stairwells, and underneath bridges.

Main opposition Republican People Party’s (CHP) Antalya deputy Niyazi Nefi Kara defined the ban as a regulation that is ‘damaging to the city, democracy, and tourism.’

Millions of domestic and international tourists visit the famous Mediterranean city of Antalya each year. Since the tourism sector in the country received a major blow due to persisting security threats, the recent ban stands as a further risk for tourism.

Referring to Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previous statements like ‘AKP government has never intervened into the personal lifestyles,’ CHP deputy Kara said the rhetoric of the President Erdoğan and the government officials does not match with the reality. Kara stated that the alcohol ban is an attempt to bring about ‘sharia rules’ to Antalya.

April 28, 2017

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