Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Afghanistan cracks down on Internet cafes for allowing porn

October 25, 2010

cafe

Seventeen internet cafes have been shutdown in the Afghan capital Kabul, for allowing their clients to surf porn websites and access other unspecified “un-Islamic websites”, the local Pajhwok news agency reported.

The move comes a few months after a crackdown on sale of alcohol, banned for Muslims and only sold to non-Muslims in a handful of bars and restaurants — though there is still a thriving black market selling bottles at a price.

Some friends in Kabul have suggested the tightening could be part of government efforts to placate the Taliban and hold talks with them, by cutting back on some aspects of modern society that the hardline movement is likely to object to.

But Afghanistan is still a conservative country, and there are plenty of people with no desire to see the insurgents back in power, who would still welcome tighter controls on the internet, alcohol and other potential vices.

Pajhwok quoted one local resident happy about the shutdown of services that might “corrupt the youth”, although the cafes still have room to appeal so could prove their innocence and reopen.

There was no word from cafe users about their loss of access, although the genie might be out of the bottle as far as racy content goes, even if local TV is still pixilating out bare flesh on imported soap operas.

DVDs are passed around or on sale for the equivalent of a few dollars, and cable dishes and broadband connections bring in all kinds of programmes from abroad.

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