Indonesia bans alcohol sales in small shops

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A man sells beer on the beach in Kuta, Bali (15 April 2015)Image source, EPA
Image caption,
The government is considering laxer laws for Bali beach traders who sell alcohol to tourists

A new law banning the sale of alcohol in small shops has come into force in Indonesia.

Alcohol can still be sold in supermarkets, hotels and food outlets, but some 70,000 local stores will no longer be allowed to stock it.

The government says the restrictions are necessary to protect young people in the Muslim-majority country.

But the law has faced opposition from the tourist trade, particularly on the mainly Hindu island of Bali.

Bali relies heavily on tourism and there are concerns the ban could severely damage the industry, including by making it illegal for vendors to sell alcoholic drinks to tourists on beaches.

A government official told the BBC that more lax regulations may be brought in for some Bali beach traders, but that the plan was not finalised.

Earlier this week, two Islamic parties proposed going even further by outlawing alcohol altogether.

They want it to be illegal to produce or sell alcoholic drinks and for anyone caught drinking alcohol to face a jail term of up to five years, the Jakarta Post reports.

One lawmaker, Abdul Hakim of the Prosperous Justice Party, told Reuters, it was not a religious or ideological issue but "purely for the protection of the children of the nation".

Bali and five-star hotels would be excluded from the ban.

Though Indonesia's population is predominantly Muslim and alcohol is generally prohibited in Islam, consumption has been rising in recent years.