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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Egypt news: Porn ban, Fatah member killed, plague of locusts

Here's today's roundup of interesting news from Egypt.

The Egyptian government has announced that Internet pornography will be banned:
A new moral code has been sculpted for Egyptians, one which has jostled them into a freeze frame “based on ethics.” The limits have well and truly been set, much to the mass grumble of Egyptians from liberal circles.

To quote Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, the decision to ban all pornographic online content in Egypt on Wednesday by the state prosecutor was “a first step towards establishing a society based on ethics.”

And the reaction has showcased the usual split in Egyptian society, one which has made a cyclical appearance since the Islamist powers garnered control of the country’s presidential and parliamentary scenes: The societal yearning for freedom of expression vs. state control.

Now in Egypt, the ban has raised questions over the futility of online censorship – whether blocking porn can be easily dodged with a bit of proxy fine-tuning – and whether authorities are stifling democratic freedoms by crouching behind “ethical boundaries.”

The argument being, attributing the porn ban to “ethics” and the “national interest” is an open-ended declaration.

“These pornographic websites stem from a Western culture, they deteriorate our moral family values and youth. They promote a criminal culture, one which leads to unproductivity, drugs and theft,” says Mamdouh Ismail, a Salafi member of the Egyptian parliament who rose to prominence after he stood up during a parliament session in February to loudly recite the Azaan, or call to prayer, in protest of session timings.
Of course, there is plenty of home-grown Egyptian porn out there, and the thirst for pornography in the Arab world is apparent just from the number of hits I still receive from Internet searches for misspelled "Arab six videos".

In other news, Palestine Press Agency reports that a Fatah member who fled Gaza to avoid being killed by Hamas during the coup was murdered in El Arish, Egypt. Could be a coincidence, but Hamas ties to Egyptian Islamists might have had something to do with this.

Finally, a Biblical plague is hitting parts of Egypt, today:
The Agriculture Ministry declared a state of disaster in Aswan on Thursday as swarms of desert locusts descend on Lake Nasser, the Egypt-Sudan border and the Eastern Desert.
There was a huge plague of locusts in Africa and the Middle East in 1988.