The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Egypt moves to ban online porn, blocking some of the country’s most popular websites

Egyptian Web surfers may soon be stripped of all access to Internet pornography sites.

Egypt’s Prosecutor General ordered the government’s ministries of telecommunications, interior and information to begin enforcing a ban on online porn Wednesday. On the same day, Islamist groups demonstrated in downtown Cairo to demand enforcement of the ban on x-rated Internet material.

The Salafist Al-Nour party and other groups have long pushed a campaign called “Pure Net” which aims to block access to all sexually oriented websites in the Muslim country.

Based on their own interpretation of Islamic law, known as Sharia, some Salafis have  advocated violence against the West and severe limits on individual rights.

That same segment of Egypt’s Muslims has long argued that Internet porn clashes with the values of most Egyptians. But their countrymen’s actual Web surfing habits say otherwise: At least two pornographic websites are among Egypt’s 25 most frequently visited online destinations, according to Alexa, a division of Amazon.com that tracks online traffic patterns globally.

Egyptian secularists and moderates believe the anti-porn order is a step in the wrong direction for Egypt.

“The Prosecutor General is perhaps convinced by the arguments of those calling for the ban that this content was igniting the imagination of the youth and causing sexual harassment incidents in Egypt,” Shahira Amin told The Daily Caller.

Amin, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV, resigned her post over free speech issues during the uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

“Perhaps he has also agreed to issue this directive in order to score political points with Islamist groups in Egypt,” she told TheDC.

Ahmed Hafez, a 26 year old Egyptian blogger and activist, also criticized the move as “nearly impossible to implement in the 21st century. You can’t control where people double click.”

The order to block x-rated websites follows a March ruling by an Egyptian court that called for more stringent efforts to ban internet pornography. At the time, the Ministry of Telecommunications announced that it would form a committee charged with limiting access to that material inside Egypt’s borders.

An Egyptian administrative court in Cairo ruled in 2009 in favor of an Islamist lawyer who had argued that Internet pornography was “venomous and vile” and a threat to society.

That ruling was never enforced by the Mubarak government, however — or by Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, who has held his office continually since 2006.

Despite a relatively high rate of access to the Internet in Egypt, the North African nation has traditionally not imposed the kind of strict filtering of online pornographic content common in some of the Gulf Arab states.

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