Hard-line Muslims in Egypt demand end to online pornography
Top prosecutor orders ministries to comply with porn ban
Acknowledging the requests of the ultra-conservative Muslims known as Salafis, Egypt's top prosecutor has ordered government ministries to enforce a ban on pornographic Web sites, three years after a court denounced the sites as "venomous and vile."
Scholars dismissed current worries that the most recent moves may be related specifically to the rise of Islamists to power. "The former regime saw itself as a monitor over society on how it should act, think, write, and speak ... The philosophy has not changed."
Similar orders had previously not been enforced due to high costs associated with technical applications in blocking the thousands of Web sites and their various pages.
This is just the latest in a series of incidents highlighting Egypt's grappling with issues related to freedom of speech. Liberals fear that the rise of Islamists to power will usher in repressive tactics used by the ousted regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
There have been previous attempts by Islamist lawyers to block pornographic Web sites. "The government is not supposed to monitor or be watchdogs over people. It should provide services, regardless of how citizens use that service," Digital rights researcher Ramy Raoof says.
Under ousted leader Mubarak's regime, an administrative court in Cairo in 2009 ruled in favor of a suit filed by an Islamist lawyer who argued that pornographic Web sites were destructive to Egyptian social values.
The court ruled at the time that "freedoms of expression and public rights should be restricted by maintaining the fundamentals of religion, morality and patriotism," denouncing the Web sites in graphic terms.
During the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak last year, the government moved to entirely block the Internet for several days in an attempt to disrupt communications among activists. However - that measure failed to curb huge street protests against the regime.
Raoof says that the situation has not improved much when it comes to Internet freedoms.
A lower court ordered the government to ban pornographic Web sites in March of this year. Some members of the country's first freely-elected parliament, dominated by Islamists, wanted to introduce legislation banning pornographic Internet sites.
"I don't see this has anything to do with Islamists. It is a continuous effort that has been happening from before," Raoof said. He dismissed current worries that the most recent moves may be related specifically to the rise of Islamists to power.
"The former regime saw itself as a monitor over society on how it should act, think, write, and speak," he said. "The philosophy has not changed."
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Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
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