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Turkey clamps down on alcohol as Erdogan pushes Islamist agenda

COVID-19 ban on liquor sales seen as a ploy to reverse 100-year-old secularism

The liquor section of an Istanbul grocery store is cordoned off during a recent three-week lockdown.

ISTANBUL -- Turkey, once a fiercely secular republic, is stepping up restrictions on alcohol as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tries to place Islam at the heart of national politics and steer the overwhelmingly Muslim country toward the Middle East and away from Europe and the U.S.

On April 29, the Turkish government imposed a nearly three-week nationwide lockdown and ban on alcohol sales through the end of Ramadan. Even at grocery stores allowed to operate during the period, liquor sections were sealed off with tape notifying customers that the corner has been temporarily closed by government order.

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