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Court Orders Egyptian Government To Censor Internet Porn

Supporters of an Egyptian Islamist candidate hold his posters as they drive through Cairo on Friday. If Abu Ismail is elected he plans to apply a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Amro Maraghi
/
AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of an Egyptian Islamist candidate hold his posters as they drive through Cairo on Friday. If Abu Ismail is elected he plans to apply a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

In the sign of the bigger cultural struggle in a post-Mubarak Egypt, a court has ordered the government to ban pornographic Internet sites.

One of the big questions facing Egypt now that Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule has ended is what kind of role religion will play in the new government. Some of the Islamists who control parliament have expressed that they would like the country ruled by sharia.

The Los Angeles Times reports the court said that porn sites emit "poisons in spreading immorality" that "destroy all religious beliefs, ethics and moral values."

The Times adds:

"The verdict comes after an inquiry by Younis Makhioun, a member of parliament with the ultraconservative Islamist Al Nour party, who called for pornographic websites to be outlawed. He said X-rated sites have destroyed morality, corrupted the youth and spread obscenity, family troubles, rape and divorce.

"'Instead of focusing on important issues affecting our country, Egyptian youth have become busy with lust.... Just making it difficult for users to surf these websites will be a positive step,' he said."

A similar ruling was issued under Mubarak but it was never enforced. The AP spoke to activists who criticized the mandate. Ramy Raoof said it was reminiscent of what the Mubarak regime tried to do to quell the revolution. It's what he tried to do to Islamists sites.

"Censorship presumes that citizens are dumb and lack knowledge, and that the state must carry out that role for them because it knows better," he told the AP. "If you want to protect people from trouble, it is never through withholding information."

The AP points out that similar ban was struck down by a court in Tunisia, the country that kicked off the Arab Spring.

If you remember the Al Nour party was the one that kicked out one of its members for lying about getting a nose job.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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