Owners and employees at Baghdad nightclubs and bars voiced frustration on Wednesday after their establishments were raided by troops who allegedly beat customers and staff a day earlier.
The raids, the first of their kind in several months, come as the Iraqi capital takes tentative steps to emerge from years of conflict and violence, with a limited nightlife having slowly returned.
Army special forces carried out raids of venues serving alcohol at around 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Tuesday "at dozens of nightclubs in Karrada and Arasat, and beat up customers with the butts of their guns and batons," said an interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Artists who were performing at the clubs were also beaten," the official said. The reason for the raids was not immediately clear.
Another security official, who also declined to be identified, said the raids were ordered by Lieutenant General Faruq al-Araji, the top security official in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office, but he did not say why.More.
Every time PM Maliki wants to bolster his 'puritanical' credentials and appeal to the rising Islamic fundamentalist fervor among his Shi'ite base he comes up with this gimmick of targeting alcohol shops and bars, as if they are the main source of Iraq's internal problems. It doesn't matter that public services are still in shambles almost ten years after the war, or that insurgents are making a strong comeback in their former strongholds and are increasingly successful in staging mass car bombings and attacks against security forces, or that corruption and graft have become so rampant among governmental officials that nobody even pretends to try doing anything about it. But God forbid the trampled Iraqi people have some semblance of a normal nightlife and be allowed to keep at least a small shadow of their former secular lifestyle. Now every goon in Maliki's office has the power to shut down the city if he happens to feels like it.
May a phlegmy, pungent spit soil your filthy beards, Iraqi officials, the whole lot of you, Sunni, Shia and Kurd. May your bloody, rotten corpses be dragged through the streets of Baghdad by angry mobs for letting the Iraqi people down once again. And may you and your filthy offspring and extended families choke to death on the 750 billion dollars you have stolen from the state coffers over the last ten years.