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Egypt’s court orders ban on porn websites

The decision is immediately enforceable, but contradicts a previous 2013 ruling that allows pornography online

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 May 2015
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An Egyptian administrative court on Wednesday ordered that the prime minister take the necessary measures to censor pornography websites inside Egypt, just two years after the same court decided not to ban them in another case.

The court's latest decision is immediately enforceable, but can still be appealed at the Supreme Administrative Court.

In the case, lawyer Nezar Gharab argued that the websites caused "immorality" to spread, affecting youth and children.

"Islamic Sharia law and all heavenly religions came to elevate human beings to a desired level of dignity,” he said.

Gharab added that Egypt's lack of laws to criminalise such websites so far had had a negative impact.

This is the court's second verdict in the case, as it issues verdicts in urgent cases in two phases: an urgent verdict, followed by a substantive verdict.

The first urgent verdict was issued in 2009 in the same case, and also ordered the censorship of pornography websites.

This first verdict should theoretically have been applied immediately, but the decision was never applied.

In 2013, lawyer Ibrahim El-Salamony filed and won a separate case in which he argued that allowing pornography websites would protect society, as young men turned to them when they were not able to marry because they had not yet saved up enough money, especially if they were unemployed.

It is still unclear which court decision should be implemented: the 2013 decision against a ban, or the Wednesday decision ordering one.

Following the 2009 verdict under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, political activists online worried that the country might use the decision as a pretext to censor websites opposing his regime.

In November 2012, during the reign of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the prosecutor-general at the time ordered the implementation of the 2009 court order to ban pornography websites.

Activists also criticised the decision, which was never implemented, saying that it might also be used as a pretext to curb online dissent.

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