Islamism, Secularism, and Beer in Palestine

With Hamas in power, everyone seems to be taken with the story of a brewery in Palestine. In Der Spiegel:

Taybeh the beer is crisp, clean and very drinkable. It comes in light and dark versions, with a label that proudly reads “The Finest in the Middle East.” Its makers seem to have tapped an unlikely region for venturing into the beer business.

“Everybody thought I was nuts to build a brewery in a Muslim region,” said Nadim Khoury, the company’s master brewer, regarding the glaringly obvious problem that the Quran forbids the consumption of alcohol.

Yet Palestinian Christians, who make up just under 2 percent of the total population of the Occupied Territories, aren’t the only ones drinking Taybeh beer. “We produce 600,000 liters a year,” said Khoury. “Of that, 30 percent sells to Israel and the remaining 70 percent within Palestine.” Sales of Taybeh, he added, account for only 15 to 20 percent of total beer sales in the West Bank.

“I don’t want to say exactly that the Muslims enjoy the beer more than the Christians — but they do,” said Sayib Nasser, a member of the Fatah Party and deputy governor of the local council in nearby Ramallah.