“Life Does Not Consist of Alcohol and Sex”: Alcohol Bans and the Politics of Modernity in Turkey

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There is nothing particularly modern about banning alcohol—aside from the fact that such regulations occur in the here and now. Nor, for that matter, is there anything anti-modern about it; the arguments are couched in the rational language of social improvement. In Turkey, however, alcohol bans as a symbol are deeply tied to the country’s experience of modernization. In constructing a “modern,” “secular” state, the founders of the Turkish Republic singled out a number of practices that were either seen as necessary to the development of such a state or as reflective of one. Subsequent Turkish history has witnessed repeated struggles over these practices and their symbolism. Drinking is but one of these practices, but it is an illustrative one.

The following paper makes no attempt to qualify or quantify “modernity” or “modern” behavior, it does, however, seek to consider the politics of modernity. In Turkey, charges of being un-modern are used as a political weapon—as a means of discrediting those long denied a say in determining the shape of the state and society in which they live. In recent years, however, as debates in the last decade over restricting alcohol show, much of this rhetoric has been turned on its head. The once un-modern are now claiming the mantle of modernity.

 

CONTENTS

I. Alcohol in Islam

II. Early Alcohol Bans in Turkey

III. The Rise of the Religious Right in Turkey

IV. Alcohol Bans: 1970 to 2002

V. Alcohol Bans: 2002 to 2010

VI. Conclusion

Alcohol and Islam

Altering one’s mental state, be it through drinking alcohol or consuming any number of other substances, is a tradition with ancient pedigree. William Donner argues that drinking creates “an opportunity for a temporary ‘time out’ from everyday activities,” thereby allowing people to share a social moment together.[1] Often the practice of drinking allows those involved to transcend the social rules under which they typically operate. Such liminal spaces, he observes, contrast strongly with the more rationalized, regularized tempo of “modern” life.

Alcohol is among the most common substances used to achieve this state across multiple societies. The word itself is derived from Arabic and translates roughly as “the essence”—in reference to the distilling process, which Muslim chemists improved and later introduced to Europeans.[2] Given that Islamic norms forbid alcohol consumption, the contribution is ironic in retrospect. Multiple ayas in the Koran and hadiths inveigh against alcohol as a trick of Satan meant to “befog” the mind and impede believers’ reception and understanding of God’s word.

Tellingly, the Islamic prohibition on alcohol developed over time. Initially it was merely frowned upon, but repeated instances of followers arriving at prayer drunk convinced Mohammad that an outright ban was necessary. The implication here is that alcohol consumption was common in the region at this time. Going cold-turkey would have been a radical shift, and, despite its religious prohibition, alcohol did not disappear.

Yet Mohammad’s conundrum—how to establish a space for religious practice uncontaminated by worldly temptations is a common one. Centuries later, one can see Evangelical Christians mulling over this same problem of distancing themselves from temptation.[3] Attempts to regulate people’s diets, behavior, and mental states are not an exclusively Islamic preoccupation. And, even within Islamic society, there was a great heterogeneity in attitudes toward drinking.

Before and after the conversion to Islam, alcohol remained an important social lubricant in Turkic culture. Traveling through Central Asia in the mid-14th century, the itinerant Islamic judge Ibn Battuta described his Uzbek hosts as having “a fermented drink prepared from . . .grain, which they call buza [beer] and regard as lawful to drink. It is white in colour.”[4] Similarly, accounts of the Mughal Empire a century later emphasize the large quantities of alcohol which fueled social events put on by the Timurid ruling dynasty.[5]

The persistence of alcohol in Turkic—and subsequently Turkish—culture can be witnessed in the founder of modern Turkey: Ataturk himself was a heavy drinker and, ultimately, died from cirrhosis of the liver. Although he and other officers of his generation were heavily influenced by European ideas, the notion that heavy drinking was part and parcel of being a warrior and being a man was not some western import. Rather it was rooted deeply in pre-modern Turkic tradition.

 
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Early Alcohol Bans in Turkey

During the Ottoman era, the legality of alcohol fluctuated according to the whims of the sultan. Some—such as Selim I and II (1512-20, 1566-74)—allowed it while others—notably Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-66) and Murat IV (1623-40)—took very firm stands against it.[6] In general, Muslims were forbidden from manufacturing or selling alcohol. As a consequence, vineyards and bars tended to be monopolized by minority communities such as Armenians and Jews.

As the numbers of Westerners in the empire increased during the 19th century, Istanbul neighborhoods, like Pera, became known for their alcohol-fueled nightlife. Even sultans got in on the act: Mehmet V (1909-18), for example, “was known as a cognac-loving ruler.”[7] During the 1880s, as the Ottoman state attempted to reassert its dominance over the economy, it became directly involved in the market for liquor by opening a large-scale rakı factory in Tekiıdağ.

With the collapse of the Ottoman regime, power in the region devolved temporarily to localities. While Ottoman soldiers continued to resist western forces militarily, they also began organizing assemblies of Anatolian notables—first in the city of Sivas, then more permanently in Ankara.  One of the first laws passed by this representative body was a law banning alcohol throughout the country. Submitted by Trabezon representative Ali Şükrü Bey, the ban was defended on the grounds that Turkey was a religious nation.[8]

The ban stayed on the books—albeit with little effect—until 1926 when it was repealed. At this point the state veered in the opposite direction, not only legalizing alcohol, but going so far as to give itself a monopoly over the liquor (and tobacco) market through the establishment of TEKEL.[9] Such a move was in keeping with the laicism and etatism of the early Kemalist regime.[10] Direct state involvement in business, in religious practice, and in the economy allow its leaders the ability to significantly manipulate religiously symbolic commodities like alcohol.

 
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The Rise of the Religious Right

The 1920 alcohol prohibition—argued for on religious grounds—suggests the degree to which Turkey has never been a wholly secular state.[11] Even from its beginnings Islam played a crucial role: many of the major reforms enacted by Ataturk’s regime—from banning fezes, to changing the ezan to Turkish, to instituting a writing system divorced from Koranic script—sought to create a society where religious affiliation was subordinated to a shared Turkish culture. All such reforms implicitly acknowledged the existence and attraction of religion in society.

It would be incorrect then to say that Islam in Turkey has made a come-back in recent years. It was never gone. Rather, it is religious affiliation as a base for political organization that has grown stronger in the past several decades. Just as wearing a fedora was once a necessary adjunct to a position in republican politics, representing oneself as a paragon of proper Islamic practice has become crucial in cultivating a certain political following.[12]

Starting in the late 1960s Islamic-rooted political parties have been able to secure positions of power within the state. Control over regulations, licensing, and patronage has allowed these parties to challenge the very nature of the society that Ataturk and his allies sought to create. Specifically, they have tried to change the nature of the public sphere.

The Kemalist public sphere is “institutionalized and imagined as a site for the implementation of a secular and progressive way of life.”[13] As such, religion and its associated symbols must be discouraged while other symbolic objects and actions must be encouraged. By this logic, headscarves must be excluded. Public drinking, by contrast, becomes an expression of a certain sort of republican, secular Turkish culture.[14] Those for whom drinking is considered sinful are left without a neutral public space where their values are respected.

For pious Muslims this model of the public sphere is oppressive and constricting—“serving alcohol in public places [functions] as an instrument of discrimination.”[15] A great deal of their anxiety surrounds proper moral behavior in a world where sin is both present and infectious. In her study of Muslim women’s religious study groups, Kim Shively describes students discussing where it is appropriate for them to go. Students favored “gender segregated education, tea parks, [and] meeting facilities” over the alternative and especially frowned on resort towns “with their displays of bodies and the endless parties and alcohol consumption.”[16]

Whereas headscarves are typically depicted as “contestations” of a public space defined by secular elites, the bans on alcohol promoted by pious politicians should be seen as attempts to actively control it. Just as Kemalist’s sought to define public space for all Turks, so now do religious politicians seek to re-define it.

 
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“Un-Modern” Behavior: Alcohol Bans, 1970-2002

In order to shape a modern society, Kemalist elites developed a strong state. The state’s control is not merely conceptual, but rather highly concrete: the state owns factories and properties, manages parks and waterfronts, promotes certain businesses and ignores others. As early as the 1970s, Islamist politicians used their positions in coalition governments to push their policies. As Minister of the Interior, Oguzhan Asilturk “required all restaurants that wanted to serve alcohol to obtain a new special permit,” thus increasing the regulatory hurdles.[17]

Attempts to shape society along religious lines during the 1970s were mostly of this small-bore variety. Events of the 1980s, on the other hand, made more sweeping changes imaginable. After the 1980 coup, the military promoted Islam as a counter to Marxism and minority nationalisms. The preeminent political leader during the decade, Turgut Özal, was himself a devout Muslim with ties to Islamist parties. Public demonstrations of his faith, such as going on haj while in office, added to the acceptability of Islamic practice in the public sphere.

Restrictions on alcohol became more common during the 1980s as well. In the summer of 1984, new national regulations were passed prohibiting outside drinking. The strongest opposition to these restrictions came from coastal tourists areas and large tourism agencies. The mayor of Bodrum, a growing resort town, declared that, “These regulations will take an axe to tourism.”[18] Other critics observed that the regulations were being misinterpreted abroad as a full-scale ban, and were scaring off Arab and European tourists who came to Turkey for entertainment.[19] In response to lobbying and pressure, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism repealed the regulations apologizing that, “In trying to protect foreign tourists, like we should Turks, from the harms of alcohol, we strayed away from our primary mission . . .and due to this, we entered a situation which would damage our economy.”[20]

Although entirely religious concerns may have been at the root of the regulations, the argument was made in the more general, secularized terms of public morality. A great deal of modern alcohol regulation stems from such logic: In the public sphere, one should be a model citizen, not an inebriate.[21] As such, regulations of public behavior can be rather bipartisan: In 1990, the city of Ankara, run at the time by a secular party, ceased issuing new alcohol licenses to establishments near mosques, schools, and daycares. Additionally 187 bars and clubs in the city’s Maltepe district were informed half-way through the night that their existing licenses had been revoked.[22] As in the 1984 situation, criticism of the policies were economic in nature. Employers spoke of how the immanent decline in business would impact their staffs or how the rules had been imposed arbitrarily, without consultation.

Despite the fact that these restrictive regulations had been instigated by (at least nominally) secular politicians, bans continued to be associated with Islamist parties. Starting in the late 1980s, the Refah Party (RP), began wining municipal elections and stories about its anti-alcohol polices began making headlines.[23] Upon becoming mayor of the conservative city of Konya, Halil Ürün banned alcohol from the inaugural fete and began denying licenses to liquor stores.[24] Similarly, in the city of Bingöl, the new governor rejected new license requests. The strict policy prompted an opposition politician to complain that, “Bingöl is like Libya”—at the time known for its strict alcohol policies.[25] In the case of these religiously-rooted restrictions, critics were quick to throw around the word “modern.” The same politician argued that the governor’s practices were preventing Bingöl from become “civilized and modern.” In the case of Konya, opponents argued that the new mayor’s actions were not in keeping with Konya’s true character. Konya was a “modern city” and Mayor Ürün’s election was merely an aberration, a protest vote against the ruling party.

Accusing religious politicians of pushing anti-“modern” policies—whatever the merits—was tantamount to accusing them of being un-Turkish. The Turkish state is defined by its “modern” character and, for six decades, political struggle had centered around control of this “modern” state. But Refah politicians represented something new. Their party was funded by a growing class of religiously conservative businessmen (dubbed “Anatolian Tigers”) and an equally large number of Turks living abroad. Refah represented segments of the society long alienated from the Turkish state, and alcohol bans reflected their priorities.

In 1994 Refah won control of major municipalities, including Istanbul and Ankara, as well as 19% of the national assembly.[26] Using their newly won powers, Islamist politicians strove to create a public space where Islam was not merely allowed, but where other activities did not conflict with its precepts. Controversial as headscarves and the promise to build mosques in major entertainment districts might be, alcohol bans were among the few restrictions on personal liberty that Refah politicians pushed for. Understandably, the policy and its potential implementation become the focus of acute anxiety.

Within a week of the election, Milliyet was publishing stories expressing Istanbullu’s fears about possible alcohol bans and nightlife ordinances.[27] The fears were misplaced. Aside from restricting alcohol service to indoor areas,[28] the Refah government’s main victory in Istanbul was symbolic: the banning of alcohol sales in the Galata tower, one of the city’s most popular tourist sites. In other cities, however, the RP had more success. Provincial governors in Tokat, Gümüşhane, Uşak, Balıkesir, Cankırı, and Zonguldak (to name but a few) published circulars claiming the authority to restrict alcohol sales within their borders in the name of “public order.” Kayseri denied kiosks to alcohol vendors.[29] Ankara too got in on the act by limiting alcohol sales to those over the age of 18.

The frisson of Islamist parties governing relatively liberal cities, like Ankara and Istanbul, drew the attention of scholars. One, Alev İnan Çinar, concluded that Refah was attempting “to add the local  . . .to the public sphere that [had, up to then], been dominated by a conception of modernity that takes the West and Westernization as the basic standard of modernization.”[30] Among the many spaces she visited was the Camlica Café-Restaurant, a scenic spot for day tripping Istanbullus. Camilca was operated by Turing, a municipally-owned food-service company, it had traditionally served alcohol, but under Refah that ended and the whole place was redecorated in the style of an Anatolian country home. In this manner, she felt, Refah was trying to promote “a Western culture freed from Western influence.”[31]

Much of activity of this sort occurred in 1996. By the following year, the Refah Party had been forced from office, its leader banned from politics, and some of its most popular members (such as Istanbul mayor Recep Tayip Erdoğan) jailed on various charges.[32] Islamist politicians regrouped into new parties—first the Virtue Party (FP), then the Justice and Development Party (AKP)—but, for several years, their political momentum was lost. The Galata Tower’s alcohol ban was lifted in time for the 2001 tourist season.

 
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“If There Are No Headscarves in Public, No Alcohol Either”: Alcohol Bans, 2002-10

By the following year, however, alcohol bans had re-entered the news—just in time for the elections. Through a combination of economic mismanagement and corruption, secular politicians had largely discredited themselves in the eyes of the public and the AKP under the leadership of Erdoğan led in the polls. The former mayor campaigned as a changed man—softer, humbler, more open to compromise—but critics argued had not changed one bit. Proof positive that he was a crypto-Islamist were his past efforts to ban alcohol.

Hitting back against such accusations, AKP politicians portrayed themselves as defenders of a modern, progressive Turkey. Even the party name—Justice and Development—emphasized that they sought to lead the country forward. Party leaders, like co-founder Bülent Arınç, “argued that in modern countries, it’s not possible to sell alcohol in every area.” The AKP was merely trying to bring Turkey in line with international norms of behavior. “We are not against people’s private lives,” Arınç explained, “In houses, in bars, in meyhanes, in night clubs . . .we have no thought of closing nor banning [alcohol].” But “areas open to the public” were a different matter.[33]

The argument that Turkey’s liberal alcohol policies were actually out-of-step with “modern” behavior was a common trope of religious conservatives. Writing in the pro-AKP paper Zaman, columnist Ekrem Dumanlı recalled that, while living in Boston, he had been surprised to learn that American establishments carded anyone who appeared to be underage and that, further, people didn’t drink in parks, on the streets, or under bridges. Homeless people couldn’t drink without wrapping their bottles in paper bags.[34] All these revelations emphasized to him that aspects of Turkey that he’d taken to be suggestive of its modernity were actually not practiced in the west.

During the electoral campaign of 2002, Erdoğan argued along these lines: he emphasized that he sought to ban alcohol only in government facilities. However, he suggested, the constitution’s 58th article allowed the government the power to protect young people from drugs, alcohol, and gambling.[35] Moreover, the issue of alcohol bans should be put to a public referendum in order determine where the people stood.[36] Within a few days of making these statements, Erdoğan ceased discussing such potential initiatives. When asked to expand on the issue of alcohol bans, he brushed off the query on that grounds of having already made “all statements necessary.”[37]

This rhetorical backtracking reflected alcohol policies of the following two years. Although he AKP won the election by a wide margin, there was no referendum and there were no large scale moves to limit the sale of alcohol beyond what was already occurring in AKP controlled municipalities. In 2004 the first municipal elections in five years were held, however. Whereas the Refah and Virtue Parties had polled between 17-20% during the past decade, AKP won 41% of the vote—an accomplishment no Turkish politcal party had achieved in fifteen years.[38]

Starting after the elections, AKP politicians began to implement alcohol bans at the local level. In August of 2005, the government published a new series of workplace regulations in which authority to regulate alcohol was devolved to municipalities.[39] This change gained significance two months later when the Ministry of Interior issued a policy memorandum referencing the new rules and asking local governments to clearly designate areas where alcohol could be sold.[40] Over the following months, numerous AKP controlled municipalities enacted bans on alcohol in public places.

As always, touristic sites were the most controversial spaces for implementation. For one thing, there was money at stake: according to the newspaper Hürriyet, tourists tossed back around $205 million worth of alcohol in 2004.[41] The possibility of alcohol bans might scare away foreigners. More symbolically, as Çınar had noted a decade earlier, pious politicians shaped policies with “the tourist gaze” in mind.[42] What many Turks viewed as economically damaging, some city officials saw as an opportunity to define Turkey anew to the world.

Within the AKP, however, such views were far from unanimous. A great number of successful bans were enacted in places like Tunçoluk, a town 30km outside of Ardahan—itself not particularly central in the scheme of things.[43] AKP politicians in areas that depended on tourism, or where their own electoral success depended more on managerial competence than cultural issues, tended to shy away from enacting bans.

“Turkish” popular culture holds that fish should be eaten along with rakı, an anise-based regional liquor, and touristic restaurants tend to play up the connection.[44] Not wishing to challenge this tradition, Muharrem Ergül, the AKP mayor of Beykoz, a scenic Istanbul district lying along the Bosporus, refused to ban alcohol service at the famous municipality-run fish restaurant Beytaş Beykoz Balıkçısı. The municipal government of Üsküdar, a rather pious municipality south of Beykoz, saw things differently, however, and voted to restrict alcohol sales. The AKP mayor of Greater Istanbul Kadır Topbaş vetoed the municipality’s resolution out of hand.

In the Aegean tourist mecca of Antalya, the AKP-controlled city council declared the entire city a “wet” area. The mayor, Menderes Türel, explained that bans were inappropriate for his city. Although “[he] was elected with the votes of the AK party,” he emphasized, “I am the mayor of Antalya.” Decisions about bans were best left up to localities, which should be free to choose. Minister of the Interior Abdulkadır Aksu echoed this in declaring that, “We are a government in favor of freedom, not of bans.” [45] These appeals to freedom did not move critics who saw these statements as coded language, referencing the ongoing ban on headscarves in public places and saying, effectively, “If there are no headscarves in public, no alcohol either.”[46]

With the passage of a few years, AKP politicians grew a bit more bold. Mayor Ergül’s successor chose to end alcohol sales at the Beytaş Beykoz Balıkçısı and, in 2009, the city banned alcohol sales at the Moda pier, an equally scenic spot on the eastern shore of the Bosporus popular with more upscale, secular Turks. This latter ban provoked strong opposition and a series of organized protests. The demonstrations were broken up by the police, and several leaders were arrested. Dismissing such critics, Erdoğan retorted that, “Those people in Moda look at life from the inside of a bottle.”[47] This disparagement of critics as being nothing more than sots was common in AKP rhetoric, implying as it did that opponents had their perspectives out of whack. Another tactic was to point out how hypocritical their secular opponents were being. AKP-leaning columnist Nazlı Ilıcak observed that the secular Ecevit government, which had preceded the AKP, was responsible for regulations that limited alcohol in dormitories, sports clubs, and card parlors. Those restrictions had been enacted in the name of protecting youth too, so it was unfair to say that the AKP was “surreptitiously bringing alcohol bans.” [48]

Laicist Turks might be forgiven their paranoia, of course. In the case of Ankara’s mayor, Melih Gökçek, for example, there was clearly a pro-ban agenda being pushed forward. As early as 2005, numerous AKP-controlled municipalities in the greater Ankara region had restricted alcohol. Parks and popular tourist destinations were also targerted by bans. During the course of 2008, Gökçek oversaw the establishment of night inspection teams that would perform spot-checks on whether local businesses were adhering to “opening and closing times, health rules, noise limits and fire safety regulations.”[49] Then, in 2009, the council inserted last-minute language into a ballot referendum concerning limiting traffic on a busy street in the capitol. The new text would tie an alcohol ban to the more general traffic ban. The policy was sufficiently controversial that Gökçek was forced to backtrack.[50]

 
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Conclusion

There’s no tidy wrap up to the narrative of Turkish alcohol bans because alcohol bans are symbolic of larger struggles in the society which continue at this very moment. While secular politicians may characterize restrictions and bans as reactionary or backward, religious politicians see them as vital steps in constructing a safer, better world. As recently as January 2011, AKP Vice President Hüseyin Çelik noted that, “In every civilized country there are regulations relating to alcohol . . .in Turkey too, the regulations under preparation will be within this established framework.”[51]

In a separate speech that same month, Bülent Arınç observed that, “Life does not consist of alcohol. Life does not consist of sex. That segment who claim ownership of modern thoughts, only care for alcohol and sex . . .they search for modernity in a drinking cup and become dedicated to finding it there.”[52]

Such statements are not disparagements of modernity, they are criticisms of what behavior really represents modernity, whose policies are truly “modern,” and, ultimately, whose vision of society is truly “Turkish.” AKP politicians, and the nouveau riche Anatolian businessmen they represent, do not claim to be leading the country backward. They present themselves as the stewards of Turkish modernity, opposed to Kemalists who, in this telling, have become the reactionaries.

It would be pointless to argue which interpretation is right. Asserting one’s policies are done in the name of some grand principle is just a means of buttressing one’s claims to power. Would-be leaders always seek out such advantages. And, in that, there is nothing modern at all.

 
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Bibliography

General Newspapers

Turkish Daily News [English]

Today’s Zaman [English]

Milliyet [Turkish]

Hürriyet [Turkish]

Sabah [Turkish]

Yeni Safak [Turkish]

Zaman [Turkish]

Sources on Alcohol and Society/ Modernity:

Donner, William W. “Alcohol, Community, and Modernity: The Social Organization of Toddy Drinking in a Polynesian Society.”€ Ethnology Vol. 33. No. 3. 7/1/94. Pp. 245-60

Heron,Craig. “The Boys and Their Booze : Masculinities and Public Drinking in Working-class Hamilton, 1890-1946.”€ The Canadian Historical Review. Vol.86. No. 3. 2005. Pp.411-52

Lawrence, Mark. “The First Social Policy : Alcohol Control and Modernity in Policy Studies.”€ Jounral of Policy History. Vol.19. No. 4. 2007. Pp. 428-451

Lewis, Michael. “Keeping Sin from Sacred Spaces: Southern Evangelicals and the Socio-Legal Control of Alcohol, 1865-1915.”€ Southern Cultures. Vol. 15. No. 2. 2009. Pp. 40-60

McDonogh, Gary Wary. “Bars, Gender, and Virtue: Myth and Practice in Barcelona’s Barrio Chino.”Anthropological Quarterly. Vol. 65. No. 1. 11/1/92. 19-33

Mandelbaum, David G. “Alcohol and Culture.” Current Anthropology. Vol. 6. No. 3. 6/1/65. Pp. 281-93

Sources on Alcohol in Ottoman/ Turkic Society:

Balabanlılar, Lisa. “Lords of the Auspicious Conjunction: Turco-Mongol Imperial Identity on the Subcontinent.”€ Journal of World History. Vol.18. No. 1. 2007. Pp. 1-39

Sources on Alcohol Policy/ Politics in Modern Turkey:

Akinci, Ugur. “The Welfare Party’s Municipal Track Record: Evaluating Islamist Municipal Activism in Turkey.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 53. No. 1. 1/1/99. Pp. 75-94

Çarkoğlu, Ali. “Religiosity, Support for Şeriat and Evaluations of Secularist Public Policies in Turkey.” Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 40. No. 2. Pp. 111-36

Çinar, Alev İnan. “Refah Party and the City Administration of Istanbul.” New Perspectives on Turkey. No. 17. Spring 1997. Pp. 23-40

Göle, Nilüfer. “Islam in Public: New Visibilities and New Imaginaries.” Public Culture. Vol. 14. No. 1. 1/1/02. Pp. 173-90.

———-“Secularism and Islamism in Turkey: The Making of Elites and Counter-Elites.”€ Middle East Journal. Vol. 51. No. 1. 1/1/97. Pp. 46-58.

Hart, Kimberly. “The Orthodoxization of Ritual Practice in Western Anatolia.” American Ethnologist. Vol. 36. No. 4. November 2009. Pp. 735-49

Karahanoğulları, Onur. Birinci Meclisin İçki Yaşağı (Men-i Müskirat Kanunu). Ankara, 2007. http://80.251.40.59/politics.ankara.edu.tr/karahan/makaleler/menimuskirat.pdf (accessed 4/29/11)

Meeker, Michael. A Nation of Empire: The Ottoman Legacy of Turkish Modernity. (Berkeley: UC Press, 2002)

Mecham, R Quinn. “From the Ashes of Virtue, a Promise of Light: The Transformation of Political Islam in Turkey.” Third World Quarterly. Vol. 25. No. 2. 1/1/4. Pp. 339-58

Michalak, Laurence and Karen Trocki. “Alcohol and Islam: An Overview.” Contemporary Drug Problems. Vol. 33. No. 4. Pp. 523-62

Nagata, Judith. “Beyond Theology: Toward an Anthropology of ‘Fundamentalism.’”€ American Anthropologist. Vol. 103. No. 2. 6/1/01. Pp. 481-498

Navaro-Yashin, Yael. “Uses and Abuses of the ‘State and Civil Society’ in Turkey.” New Perspectives on Turkey. No. 18. Spring 1998. Pp. 1-22

_______Faces of the State: Secularism and Public Life in Turkey. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002

Ögel, Kültegin. “Türkiye’de Alkol Kültürü.” Accessed: http://www.ogelk.net/dosyalar/alkol_kulturu_kultegin_ogel.pdf

Secular and Islamic Politics in Turkey: The Making of the Justice and Development Party. Ümit Cizre ed. New York: Routledge, 2008

Shankland, David. “Islam and Politics in Turkey: The 2007 Presidential Elections and Beyond.” International Affairs. Vol. 83. No. 2. March 2007. Pp. 357-71

Shively, Kim. “Taming Islam: Studying Religion in Secular Turkey.” Anthropological Quarterly. Vol. 81. No. 3. 2008. Pp. 683-711

Taspınar, Ömer. “The Old Turks’ Revolt: When Radical Secularism Endangers Democracy.” Foreign Affairs Vol. 86. No. 6 11/1/07. Pp. 114-130

Topik, Steven. “Coffee as a Social Drug.” Cultural Critique. Vol. 71. 2009. Pp. 81-106

Yavuz, M. Hakan. “Political Islam and the Welfare (Refah) Party in Turkey.”€ Comparative Politics. Vol. 30. No. 1. 10/97. Pp. 63-82

_______Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003


[1] Donner (1994), p. 245.

[2] Michalak and Trocki (2006), p. 525

[3] Lewis (2009).

[4] Ibn Battuta. Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354. Great Britain: The Broadway Travelers, 2005 [1929], p. 144. He went so far as to sample it. On account of its nasty, bitter flavor, he largely steered clear The fact that a qadi—albeit an ethically challenged one—would even taste (and report having tasted) a haram beverage is indicative of the cultural disposition toward drinking in the 14th century.

[5] Balabanillar (2004), p. 34.

[6] Murat IV’s anti-alcohol campaigns were so harsh that, even four-hundred years later, his name is synonymous with prohibition. Again and again restrictions and bans are criticized in reference to him. (Eg. “Even Murat IV couldn’t fully prohibit alcohol,” or “We’re reliving the era of Murat IV.”)

[7] Ögel, p. 3. “ . . .V. Mehmet (Reşat) ise konyak seven padişahlar olarak bilinirler.”

[8] Karahanoğulları (2007), p. 11.

[9] TEKEL (literally “single hand”) means “monopoly” in Turkish. TEKEL produced the majority of Turkish spirits, and tobacco products until IMF mandated Turkey sell of state owned enterprises to raise capital in the early 2000s. The process of privatization opened up the Turkish alcohol market to greater competition. Companies like Teta, which had been active in Europe, selling culturally Turkish beverages (like rakı) to migrant and diaspora communities, could now compete in the national marketplace. Muslim politicians supported privatization on the ground that it got the state out of the narcotics business.

[10] Kemalism is the philosophy of Ataturk, based on the six principles of laicism, etatism, populism, republicanism, nationalism, and reformism.

[11] Yavuz argues that Kemalism failed to “produce an alternative shared moral language, and Islamic references and idioms remained the depository for . . .moral debate” (220).

[12] Meeker (2002: 53) describes the way in which adhering to religious practice in order to justify one’s authority gave way to republican practice.

[13] Göle (2002), p. 176.

[14] While a totally fair description of the drinking’s social context in Turkey, I do not want to imply that alcohol imbibing Turks are consciously performing a political act—that would be a stretch. Better to assume that people drink for pleasure.

[15] Çinar (1997), p. 37.

[16] Shively (2008), p. 700.

[17] Akinci, p. 84.

[18] “Turkisik beldelerde, içki yasağı çare aranıyor,” Milliyet (4/23/85), p. 11. “Bu yönetmelik turizmi baltalar.”

[19] “İçki yasağına sert tepki,” Milliyet (4/22/85), p. 6.

[20] “Taşçioğlu: ‘Yanliş Yaptik,’” Milliyet (4/25/85), p. 9. “Biz, Türk toplumunu alkolün zararlarından koruyalım derken, yabancı turisti de korumak gibi üstümüze vazife olmayan bir yöne saptik . . .Bu yüzden ekonomimize verecek bir duruma girdik.”

[21] Lawrence (2007) argues that medicalized rhetoric and a secular social-welfare intent are the essence of “modern” social policy: “Modernity, as it relates to social policy . . .[places] concerns for the health and well-being of the population ahead of other pressing political concerns, such as the generation of state revenue” (429). Although I take his point to heart, I simply disagree with his thesis: social policy is a means to an end, and throughout history leaders and states have had a variety of ends—including ones not easily linked to revenue generation.

[22] “Ankara’da içki krizi,” Milliyet (7/14/90), p13 and “İçki yasağına karşi büyük direniş,” Milliyet (7/15/90). P. 10.

[23] Refah Partisi is Turkish for “Welfare Party.” As the name suggests, its main selling point was not religion so much as it was the promise of a just social order based on Islamic principles.

[24] “Kız otobüsünde geri adım,” Milliyet (4/13/89), p16, and “Konya ve Sivas’ta sigara ve içki yasağı,” Milliyet (5/12/89), p16.

[25] “Bingöl, Libya gibi,” Milliyet (7/27/90), p. 10.

[26] The following year, RP racked up 21%, ultimately allowing it to form a coalition with the secular DYP, making Necmettin Erbakan, the RP leader, Turkey’s first “Islamist” prime minister.

[27] “Beyoğlu sessiz,” Milliyet (3/31/94), p. 25.

[28] Navaro-Yashin (2002), p. 65.

[29] Akinci, p. 83. He ads that merchants simply set up stands at the city limits, thereby profiting off the situation.

[30] Çinar (1997), p. 24.

[31] Ibid. p. 25.

[32] In Erdoğan’s case, reading a famous poem that likened minarets to bayonets.

[33] “Alkol oyumuzu artırır,” Hurriyet, 2/15/02. “ . . .Arınç, çağdaş ülkelerde her yerde içki satışının mümkün olmadığını savundu.” And “‘Kimesenin özel hayatına karışamayız; evinde, birahanede, meyhanede içebilir. Birahaneleri, meyhaneleri, gece külplerini ne kapatmak ne yasaklamak gibi bir düşüncemiz var. Ama kamuya açik yerde . . .”

[34] Ekrem Dumanlı. “İçki yasağı tartişması, zaman kaybı.” Zaman. 12/19/05

[35] “Erdoğan ends discussion about alcohol ban.” Turkish Daily News. 2/15/02. The Turkish Constitution is available online at: http://mevzuat.meb.gov.tr/html/2709_0.html

[36] “AKP’s Erdoğan begins fight against alcohol.” Turkish Daily News. 2/14/02.

[37] “Erdoğan: Halkın iradesine dönülmeli.” Hürriyet. 2/17/02.

[38] Elections stats accessed on Wikipedia’s, “Elections in Turkey” page. From there, one can link to Turkish newpapers and business association analyses of the results.

[39] Article 4.h. İşyeri Açma ve Çalışma Ruhsatlarına İlişkin Yönetmelik. Available: http://www.maden.org.tr/mevzuat/mevzuat_detay.php?kod=14

[40] “9 soruda içki yasağı.” Hürriyet. 12/17/05; “Üsküdar insists on ‘alcohol zones.’” Turkish Daily News. 12/16/05.

[41] “9 soruda içki yasağı.” Hürriyet. 12/17/05.

[42] Çınar, p. 32.

[43] “Village elders ban alcohol.” Turkish Daily News. 9/30/05

[44] The rakı-fish combo is a cultural norm. The poet Orhan Veli alluded to it by declaring his wish “to be a fish in a bottle of rakı.”

[45] “Secularists not happy with alcohol ban.” Turkish Daily News. 12/12/05; “Aksu: İçkili yerler için ‘kırmızı sokak uygulaması’ yok.” Hurriyet. 12/8/05

[46] Funda Özkan. “Kamuda türban yoksa içki de yok.” Radikal. 12/22/05

[47] “Erdoğan enters alcohol debate.” Turkish Daily News. 9/12/08.

[48] Nazlı Ilıcak. “İçki yasağı.” Sabah. 2/3/08. “ . . . AK Parti gizli gizli içki yasağı getiriyor.”

[49] İzgi Güngör. “Night team to protect public against alcohol in capital.” Turkish Daily News. 9/6/08

[50] “Melih Gökçek referandumdan vazgeçti.” Zaman. 9/16/09

[51] “AKP’den ‘içki yasağı’ açıklaması: Kuyruklu yalan.” Radikal. 1/12/11. “Her medeni ülkede alkol satışıyla ilgili kanuni düzenlemeler vardır . . . Medeni dünya bu işi nasıl yapıyorsa Türkiye’de hazırlanan bu yönetmelik de bu esaslar çerçevesinde belirlenmiştir.’ diyen Çelik, ‘Alkol satın alınma yaşının 24’e çıkarıldığı kuyruklu bir yalandır.”

He added that, “It’s a fairy tail that the age for purchasing alcohol would be raised to 24,” which is problematic as new regulations are doing precisely this—limiting the sale of alcohol at organized events to those over twenty-four on the grounds that 24 year-olds still qualify as “youths” and, thus, are covered by the Article 58 (“Alkol yasağı ile ilgili sorulara cevaplar.” Hurriyet. 1/12/11).

[52] Burcu Taner. “Arınç: “Hayat içki ve seksten ibaret değildir.” Hurriyet. 1/23/11: Hayat içkiden ibaret değil. Hayat seksten ibaret değil. Hayat içki ve seksten ibaret değildir. Bir kısım çağdaş düşünceye sahip olduğunu soyleyenler sadece içki ve seksle olaylara bakıyorlar. Eveo onlar de bir insan için çok büyük ihtiyaçlar. Çağdaşlığı içki kadehlerinde aramak ve orada bulmak isteyenler ithaf olunur.

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