Iraq lawmakers have banned the production, sale and import of alcoholic drinks, in a surprise bill passed Saturday evening, angering the country’s large Christian community and drawing criticism internationally.

The New legislation, which imposes fines of $21,000 for those who violate it, remains subject to review by the supreme court. Observers believe the law is part of a series of reforms that have increasingly imposed Islamic mores on the country’s population, which remained diverse despite heavy-handed rule of deposed leader Saddam Hussein.

Farida beer
Iraq produces several brands of beer as well as wine and traditional liquors

The Iraq War, a protracted armed conflict that began with the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. However,  conflict and unrest have continued following coalition withdrawal from the country, and several of the objectives of the original invasion, including ambitions to liberalise and stabilise the country, have fallen flat.