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Egypt: Mixed Reactions to Porn Ban Proposal

Debate and controversy are rocking the newly elected Egyptian parliament, just a month after its members were sworn in. Both the Egyptian blogosphere and Twitterverse have been watching the new parliament, tweeting their demands, concerns and sarcasm under the hashtag #EgyParliament. A recent parliament session stirred much discussion, but this time it was about pornography!

A request for a briefing calling for blocking pornographic websites was filed by a member of the parliament who belongs to Al-Nour Party. Al Nour Salafist party is known for its ultraconservative interpretation of Islam. The request was immediately met with various reactions on social media websites. Alyaa Gad, a Swiss-based Egyptian liberal and secular doctor proposed the hashtag #EgyPornBan to discuss the matter [ar].

@AlyaaGad: #EgyPornBan‏ اقترح الهاشتاج دا لتقترحوا على المجلس الموقر افكار في الموضوع المهم دا في حياة شعب قرب يموت من الجوع

I suggest #EgyPornBan hashtag so you can suggest ideas for the parliament on this important topic for the life of a nation that’s almost dying of hunger.

Many of the comments the proposal to ban porn gathered were humorous and sarcastic. Here is a selection from Twitter.

Galal Amr suggests:

@GalalAmrG: #EgyPornBan? Let the downloading begin!

Ahmed Essam adds:

@ahmedessam125: #egypornban ‏ انا مع القرار ده جدا, أن الاوان ننزل الحياة العملية وننطبق اللى درسناه سنين

I very much support this decision. It is about time to go into practical life and practice what we’ve been learning for years!

And Gauchiste threatens [ar]:

@gauchiste88: #EgyPornBan ‏ والله لو قفلتوا المواقع هطبع صور بورن كبيرة وهعلقها فى الشوارع

I swear if you shut down porn websites, I will print large porn photos and hang them on the streets!

While Mohammed Gohary jokes [ar]:

@MohammedGohary: #EgyPornBan‏ دة كنا خلاص قربنا يا ظلمة من التربع على عرش البلدان الاكثر مشاهدة للسكس.كنا هنوصل للعالمية حقا هناك من لايريد التطور لهذا البلد

We were close at reaching the victory of being the country that views porn the most, we would have gotten international. Truly, some people don’t want this country to progress!

Other tweets tried to offer a reasonable perspective and explain why they oppose such a move. Among them, Ahmed El Saeed reasons [ar]:

@am_s3ed: قبل ما تمنع المواقع الإباحية خلي الشباب مايحتاجهاش، علموهم ووظفوهم وجوزوهم وساعدوهم يشغلوا وقتهم بحاجة مفيدة ‎#EgyPornBan‏

Before you ban pornography, don’t let the youth need them. Educate them, find them jobs, marry them and help them occupy their time with something useful.

Wael Eskandar offers:

@weskandar: The #Egypornban is symptomatic of hypocrisy. These are people who can't think straight. How can they be charged with a country? #egypt

And Rasha warns [ar]:

@neversaydiee: #EgyPornBan ‏ النهارده نسمح بقفل مواقع البورن …بكرة تبقى مواقع التواصل و بعده مواقع الاخبار

Today we let them shut down porn websites, tomorrow social networks, and the day after news websites.

No to Pornography!

No to Pornography!

Despite the near-universal condemnation of the ban on Twitter, the picture was different on Facebook, as a group was titled A Campaign to Ban Porn Websites in Egypt and has attracted more than 15,000 members. Another page called “We want to ban porn websites in Egypt” was established in February 2011 and was liked by more than 43,000 users.

A few blogs also weighed in on the porn debate, as blogger Mina Naguib wrote a post entitled “Porn, Freedom, and Social Equality” in a sarcastic allusion to “Bread, Freedom, and Social Equality”, one of the prominent chants during #Jan25 revolution. Mina wondered [ar]:

يا ترى هل يعلم سيادة العضو بكم الفساد و القتل و التعذيب و القمع و الترهيب و الفقر و الجوع و غياب الأمن و الرعاية الصحية لتأتى الأفلام الإباحية على أولوياته؟ هل يعلم سيادة العضو أن نسبة من يشاهدون الأفلام الإباحية فى مصر لن يتعدى بكل الأحوال نسبة من هم يعيشون تحت خط الفقر؟ هل يعلم كم المليارات التى تصرف سنويا فى الصين و السعودية و إيران و الإمارات لغلق المواقع التى تنشر معلومات “غير مرغوب فيها” من الأنظمة الحاكمة؟

Does the member of the parliament know the extent of corruption, murder, torture, oppression, intimidation, poverty, hunger, insecurity and lack of healthcare to make porn as one of his priorities? Does the member of the parliament know that the percent of those who watch porn would never exceed those who live under the poverty line? Does he know the billions of money is spent yearly in China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and UAE to shut down websites that spread “undesirable” information by ruling regimes?

The porn debate is just one of many at the new Egyptian parliament. More parliamentary drama is likely to follow!

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