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Tunisia set to block access to internet porn

An appeals court in Tunisia upheld a ruling that will block all access to internet pornography, prompting new fears of political repression in the country that sparked the Arab Spring
Tunisia internet porn blocked 06 14 11Enlarge
Tunsian journalists demostrate in front of the municipal theatre in Tunis after the president of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT), Neji Bghouri, presented on May 3, 2011 on World Press Freedom Day, the annual report on press freedom in Tunisia. The fall of the police state in the Tunisian uprising in January has left journalists seeking new sources and points of reference for their work, demanding the right to a free press. (HICHEM/AFP/Getty Images)

Exactly five months after Tunisia's autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled from power, there are new concerns in one of North Africa's youngest democracies that government censorship could be returning.

This time, it's about porn.

The Tunisian government agency regulating the country's internet said on Tuesday that it was set to begin blocking access to websites containing pornography, according to Agence France-Presse.

Last month, a Tunisian court ruled that websites featuring nudity pose "a danger to young people and were contrary to Muslim values," reported AFP. An appeals court in Tunisia recently upheld the earlier ruling, forcing Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) to begin implementing a national firewall for all pornography.

ATI, Tunisia's main internet service provider, controls virtually all web access in the country.

During Ben-Ali's two decades of rule, Tunisian media was tightly controlled by the regime. After the former president's ouster on January 14, many of those restrictions on the press - including government censorship - were lifted.

And, as GlobalPost reported two weeks ago, internet pornography seems to have become extremely popular in that short time.

Five of the top 50 websites visited in post-revolution Tunisia were porn-related, according to statistics gathered by Tunisia's Business News.

The latest court order for ATI is the second incident of internet censorship since Ben Ali resigned.

Last month Slim Amamou, a member of Tunisia's interim government and a prominent blogger, resigned due to a perceived increase in government censorship over the internet.

Amamou's resignation was reportedly triggered by a military order to block four websites.

"Nothing has changed," Amamou tweeted, according to the Guardian. "We're still in the Ben Ali era as long as there aren't new elections."

Meanwhile, the country's first elections since the start of the 'Jasmine Revolution' have been postponed from July until at least October.

Tunisians head to the polls later this fall to elect a national committee to rewrite the country's constitution.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/tunisia-set-block-access-internet-porn