Armed men storm raki festival in Turkey in anti-alcohol protest

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A group of armed men stormed a festival in southern Turkey devoted to the traditional alcoholic drink raki over the weekend, firing shotguns into the air and shouting anti-alcohol slogans, Dogan News Agency reported on Sunday.

The Hurriyet newspaper showed footage online of a group of men running through a crowded bazaar in the city of Adana, shouting and firing a gun into the air.

Plainclothes police later arrested four suspects for allegedly hitting tables with the long knives used to carve up kebabs, Dogan said. The festivities later continued.

Now its sixth year, the event was previously called the"World Raki Festival" but organisers changed the name this year because of pressure from conservative anti-alcohol groups who had wanted it banned, Dogan said.

Although Turkey is constitutionally secular, the overwhelming majority of the population is Muslim. Many, like President Tayyip Erdogan, are pious Muslims who shun alcohol.

Under the AK Party founded by Erdogan, Turkey has banned alcohol advertising and tightened restrictions on its sale, to the ire of many secularists, who say they are increasingly finding themselves having to adapt to stricter Muslim values.

This year, the Adana authorities changed the festival's name to the "Adana Kebab and Turnip Festival," Dogan said.