Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is no Dr. Oz. Yet, his animosity towards tobacco and alcohol consumption reached a new height last week, when he suggested people who would want to consume a good glass of Chardonnay could eat grapes instead.
Erdogan, who is leading his party into its eight year in power in Turkey, is coming from a devout Muslim background. His party, Justice and Development Party AKP has slowly discouraged the bureaucrats of consuming alcohol in official receptions and state dinners. Diplomats under the AKP rule avoided being seen with a glass of red wine in hand, fearing it may harm their future promotion.
Alcohol is such a big NO for Erdogan and his compatriots that, Turkey may soon lose its leading Basketball team, Efes Pilsen.
Under the recent advertising regulation passed in the Turkish Assembly, no big sports organisation or team can be affiliated with alcohol, nor can obtain sponsorships from beer or other liquor producers.
Thus, the management of a former European Champion, The Efes Pilsen Basketball team is under serious pressure to drop its name, drop all the financing or shut down the Club completely.
For basketball fans, this is such a huge at the face, that even the World Basketball Championship that will take place in Turkey is shadowed by the "alcohol controversy." FIBA, World Basketball Federation ordered that beer should be and will be allowed in the sports arenas for fans even during the Holy Month of Ramadan. This year, Ramadan coincides with the final games of the World Basketball Championship (September 4-12)
AKP's bitter fight with alcohol was also felt in the Aegean Coast this summer, where the police enforced a strict ban on the sale of alcohol after midnight in some very touristic towns like Bodrum.
So it is no surprise to hear Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan say things like "Eat grapes instead of drinking beer, wine or vodka."
The big surprise is nobody seems to be amused anymore.