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Non-Muslim citizens are granted a limited permission to produce alcohol for consumption within their community. This exemption, however, also leads to an attitude towards them (especially Iranian Armenians) as alcohol dealers, and a segment of black market alcohol in Iran comes through the minority community.
Wine has played an important role in Persian culture and history ranging from administration of the earliest empires to religion and Persian literature.
Under the law, it is forbidden for Iran's Muslim citizens to consume alcohol. Much of the alcoholic beverages consumed by Iranian citizens is smuggled from Iraqi Kurdistan into Iran.
Additionally officially recognized non-Muslim minorities are allowed to produce alcoholic beverages for their own consumption and for religious rites such as the Eucharist (two of the four religious minorities guaranteed representation in the Majlis, the Armenians and Assyrians, are Christian, the former being chiefly Armenian Apostolic).
This practice is not respected in some political cases, such as that of Afarin Neyssari and her husband, Karan Vafadari, as they have been arrested, among other charges, for having and serving alcohol during the mixed gatherings in their home though they are Zoroastrians, a monotheistic religion that predates Islam.
Bringing alcohol into Iran is banned.
In 2011-2012, Iran's police withdrew the driving licenses of 829 drivers, including 43 women, who had failed to pass alcohol and drug tests. Alcohol tests taken from drivers in Tehran in the period of 20 April-20 May 2012 showed that 26% of them were drunk. Because the dominated Muslim state has no discothèques or nightclubs, it all takes place at home, behind closed doors.
The 2010 study Substance Use Among Migrants: The Case of Iranians in Belgium notes that alcohol is acquired illegally in three different ways: purchased from ethnic minorities (particularly Armenians), personal home production including adding fermentants to non-alcoholic beer, or illegal imports largely through Iraq.
Iran's prohibition of alcoholic drinks creates a large demand for non-alcoholic beer. Anti-smuggling plans by the Iranian Government, coupled with awareness campaigns against the consumption of cola carbonates and campaigns encouraging the drinking of non-alcoholic beer, further boosted demand in 2010. More young adults in Iran are tending to non-alcoholic beer, following widespread media coverage regarding its health benefits. These health advantages play a major part in the promotional activities of most major firms.