Should Alcohol be Legalised in Libya?

Libyan netizens are debating whether alcohol should be allowed in the country – after more than 50 people have died from drinking methanol-tainted home-made alcohol in Tripoli. Another 470-plus people have been taken to hospitals for treatment, prompting a heated discussion on why lifting the alcohol ban would introduce legislation, which will in turn prevent such wide-scale tragedies from happening again.

Both drinking and the sale of alcohol are prohibited in Libya but a locally brewed concoction called bokha is sold on the black market. According to the Libya Herald:

Instances of people dying as a result of drinking bokha, often distilled from figs, or being blinded are not uncommon although rarely reported. There were several deaths last year.

Bokha is sometimes laced with methanol to increase its alcoholic content.

On Twitter, Khadija Ali writes [ar]:

إذا كان هناك أي شيء لنتعلمه من الحوادث المثيرة للقلق مع الكحول هو أننا لا يمكن أن نستمر في الهروب من مشاكلنا #ليبيا

@KhadijaMAli: If there was anything we should learn from the incidents which raise concern regarding alcohol is that we cannot continue to run away from our problems

Nairouz says:

كارثة التسمم والموت بسبب الكحول كارثه وطنية دفع ثمنها الغالي شباب وشابات فى مقتبل العمر #ليبيا

@Rouznai: The alcohol poisoning and death is a national tragedy which young men and women are paying the price for

And Mohamed Mesrati adds:

@MohamedMesrati: Among people who died by the poisoned alcohol in #Libya rebels fought against Gaddafi during the revolution! Shame!

Talk online is that some doctors have refused to treat patients because drinking alcohol is un-Islamic – and those who consumed the alcohol deserved to die. On those, Mojahed Bosify says:

الاطباء الذين رفضوا معالجة متسممي الكحول هم اطباء الموت وعار على المهنة ويجب فصلهم طال الزمن او قصر..#ليبيا #طرابلس #كحول

@mojahedbosify: The doctors who refused to treat those who were effected with alcohol poisoning are doctors of death and a shame on the profession. They should be sacked

Rana Jawad opens a can of worms when she asks:

@Rana_J01: Is it time / is there social&political willingness to openly discuss alcohol consumption in #Libya? Wld legalising prevent deaths? Discuss..

Suilman Ali Zway responds:

@ILPADRINO0: The Hypocrisy (whether it was religious or social) of our society will prevent us from having an honest open debate about the matter

And Mohamed Eljarh explains:

@Eljarh: Majority in #Libya will refuse any form of legalization of alcohol consumption in #Libya even those who consume it & have always done.

Omar Mukhtar provides a solution:

@Libyan_Republic: Legalize alcohol. tax it and put these criminals out of business.

The criminals he refers to in this tweet are the manufacturers and peddlers of the home-brewed alcohol – bokha.

Further Reading:

Mohamed Mesrati published a two-part article on alcohol in Libya last month in online Libyan newspaper Al Kaf, in Arabic, which is available here and here.


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