NE legislation teaser

LINCOLN (AP) — A city councilman in Nebraska is working to replace an ordinance that would require the Muslim owners of a new hookah lounge to serve alcohol in violation of their faith.

The ordinance requires businesses in Lincoln that allow indoor smoking to obtain a liquor license, which means they must stock and sell alcohol. Mustafa Albusharif and Mohanad Akrawee want to open 88 Hookah Lounge and serve hookah, teas and juices, but they don’t want to sell alcohol because their Muslim faith prohibits it, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported.

“Our goal is to be a chill place for students and to show the community of Lincoln a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern style of smoking hookah,” Albusharif said.

Now, Councilman Roy Christensen has stepped in to push for change. He said he started working with the city’s law department to draft an ordinance that would allow businesses, including 88 Hookah Lounge, to operate in compliance with their faith and law.

“We need to fix our ordinance,” said Christensen. He said the city ordinance can be eliminated because state law governs the issue.

An amendment in 2015 made cigar bars legal in Nebraska under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act. But state law doesn’t allow them to sell anything else, such as alcohol, coffee, soft drinks or candy.

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