‘Following this line, the dry law needs to be declared’: businesses and imams argue on vodka shops in the countryside

The Tatarstan State Alcohol Inspection and the Council of Aqsaqals of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Directorate didn’t come to an agreement: imams will persuade entrepreneurs not to open vodka shops in Tatar villages

‘Following this line, the dry law needs to be declared’: businesses and imams argue on vodka shops in the countryside
Photo: vk.com

The anti-alcohol outburst of the Council of Aqsaqals of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Directorate against the plans for alcohol sales in the countryside took another twist. Head of the Tatarstan State Alcohol Inspection Jaudat Akhmetkhanov met with Chairman of the Council of Aqsaqals Hazrat Ayrat Ayupov, a former imam of Nurlat District, Tatarstan, tet-a-tet on 4 February. And it seems that they agreed to disagree. As the press service of the Tatarstan State Alcohol Inspection said, the inspection “promised to take the remarks of the council into account when opening the sales points.” Not all imams agree with the aqsaqals’ opinion. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Will the preparation for the celebration of the 1100th anniversary of Islam adoption foil vodka sales?

Head of the Tatarstan State Alcohol Inspection Jaudat Akhmetkhanov reacted to the public disagreement of Chairman of the Council of Aqsaqals Hazrat Ayrat Ayupov who urged the authorities “to fence Tatar villages off the expansion of alcohol sale points.” His statement was published on the official website of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Directorate on 2 February, consequently, it spread in the mass media.

“It isn’t good to give the state inspection such tasks during the jubilee year when we celebrate the 1100th anniversary of adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria.”

After the harsh statements, the management of the Tatarstan State Alcohol Inspection invited Ayupov personally.

“Today head of the Tatarstan State Alcohol Inspection Jaudat Akhmetkhanov has met with Chairman of the Council of Aqsaqals Hazrat Ayrat Ayupov,” the press service of the inspection wrote. “They discussed the sale of legal alcohol products in the republic’s settlements where more than 100 people live.”

Hazrat Ayrat Ayupov urged the authorities “to fence Tatar villages off the expansion of alcohol sale points.” Photo: dumrt.ru

Jaudat Akhmetkhanov carefully listened to Ayrat Ayupov and promised that in the future when opening legal alcohol sale points in settlements the remarks and proposals of the council’s chairman will be considered.

Which village is “Tatar,” which one is “Russian”

According to Realnoe Vremya’s sources, at the meeting the head of the inspection tried to explain to the representative of the Muslim community that the opening of official alcohol sale points was designed to prevent alcohol poisoning in the population that cannot buy certified alcohol near the home and therefore buy illegal imported low-quality drinks.

“The opening of a sale point doesn’t mean the population will start to be poured vodka. But those who drink will buy it in an official store, not under the counter,” the inspection thinks.

At the same time, the sides discussed the conditions under which the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Directorate would consider it possible to open the sales in a village. It is impossible to easily guess which village is “Tatar,” which one is “Russian” because different ethnicities live in most settlements. This moment was the bone of contention, which placed the interlocutors on different sides.

Jaudat Akhmetkhanov carefully listened to Ayrat Ayupov and promised that in the future when opening legal alcohol sale points in settlements the remarks and proposals of the council’s chairman will be considered.

Photo: gosalcogol.tatarstan.ru

“Indeed, imams in Tatar villages are holding talks with entrepreneurs with the support and approval of the locals not to sell alcohol in the shops. For this purpose, hazrats are talking with the local authorities, the population, entrepreneurs, rural councils and so on. Thanks to their efforts, alcohol isn’t sold or its sale is traditionally banned during Ramadan in stores in more than 30 villages in 16 municipalities of Tatarstan,” the press service of the directorate told Realnoe Vremya.

Bayazitov: there should be freedom of choice

Meanwhile, adviser to the chairman of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Directorate Ildar Bayazitov has a more secular point of view and thinks that “the total ban can provoke a rise in clandestine alcohol production, which is fraught with lethal consequences”:

“We as imams are certainly in favour of the total cessation of alcohol consumption. The religion dictates this for us, the statistics of offences, divorces and other social diseases also agree with us here. However, we live in the secular state, which, in turn, gives a citizen a free choice, to drink or not to drink. And in this case we can just propagate a sober lifestyle. It is impossible to ban alcohol completely, moreover, it is not necessary. as a rule, the ban gives birth to greater interest. It goes without saying that Tatar villages are a priori Muslim. However, the problem of alcoholism in the countryside should be considered wider, including by uniting efforts with our Orthodox brother because they are also our citizens.”
Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan