The Lebanese Islamic State declares war on online pornography

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Lebanon's Ministry of Telecommunications recently announced the banning of several pornographic websites. (Illustration: Dario)

By: Ahmad Mohsen

Published Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It is not a question of freedom, as it may seem. It is a little more complicated than the fashionable bra crisis, with all due respect of course to the men and women who are offended by any talk of their bras. Fierce winds of change have been blowing across the country as of late, perhaps from Afghanistan, Raqqa (Syria), or Anbar (Iraq). But the Lebanese are dealing with these winds with remarkable humor.

We are talking about an incident within a bigger context that has been winding its way in our society which – as was expected – responded quickly to the instincts awakened by the war. It all began with an “edict” by Nader Ghazal, the head of the municipality of Tripoli, prohibiting eating in public during the month of Ramadan. However, the ban at the time did not specify the punishment that will be inflicted on offenders and the number of the lashes that every treacherous, wicked person who breaks the fast will receive. With this, mullah Nader Ghazal ushered in a new era, in keeping with the changes in the region.

The decision by Ogero director general, Dr. Abdel Moneim Youssef – and the man likes to be called doctor – banning porn websites relies on two main factors. The first one, and it is mentioned in the official announcement, is a “referral from the Cassation Public Prosecution,” which exempts Youssef, almost entirely, from any kind of inquiry. The second factor is the the generally naive view of Lebanese society regarding the porn film industry.

If discussion of the second factor requires a long debate, the first factor is doubtlessly noteworthy. All of a sudden, the public prosecution astutely awoke to the need to block “six pornographic websites.” Besides, the Telecommunication Ministry’s statement did not explain why these sites in particular were selected, the reason behind this move or its timing. Even the Telecommunication Minister Boutros Harb, a known revolutionary – he had taken part in the famous Cedar Revolution – and an advocate of human rights and personal freedoms, gave no additional details about the decision.

The details above might appear like a defense of pornographic sites, it might even be seen as advocating for pornography. Anyway, in the 21st century, that is not a crime. Coincidentally, there is a global debate going on now, as the porn industry is facing the risk of a breakdown after an actress was infected with AIDS and shooting was suspended for three days in Los Angeles, one of the main hubs for the porn industry.

Observers point out that the industry is facing real problems that, we can be certain, have nothing to do with the latest bizarre Lebanese ban on porn websites. Perhaps these sites were blocked in tune with the global debate, we do not know, no one has clarified this point yet. Perhaps the quality of the porn on these sites is poor. We must wait for Telecommunication Minister Boutros Harb, or the Cassation Public Prosecutor, or even Dr. Youssef to explain the circumstances of the decision.

The decision demonstrates a clear concern – thank goodness – for “public morality” and it seems theological at its core. While some people might think they are fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by preparing a “religious alternative” that makes it easy to reject ISIS, the country is confidently on its way to pledge allegiance to ISIS’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. There is no electricity, no water, no bras, there is nothing in this country except for the fierce winds of change, said to be Talibani in nature, coming from Afghanistan. However, God knows best. What we do know is that we’ve had a number of incidents that roll the red carpet out, welcoming what is idiomatically referred to as ISIS.

On to jihad then. What do those longing for ISIS do? Go on jihad. And ISIS is an arbitrary name for a more complex condition. On to jihad, a jihad perhaps based on the referral from the Cassation Public Prosecution. On to jihad. This might become a promising governmental declaration stamped with the seal of the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs or the Ministry of the Religious Judiciary. Why not? Aren’t we in the time of jihad? On to jihad Mr. Minister and the reward is from the Almighty Lord, thanks be to God, God is great! ISIS’ flags will not fall. Cursed be who wants to burn it. There is no place for a Pastor Terry Jones – the American Quran burner – among us Mr. Minister.

Porn websites must be blocked and the minister of telecommunications is a mujahid, so far. Eating in public during the fast of Ramadan is forbidden. On to a “local” jihad in Tripoli and Saida. Alcohol in Saida and the South must be banned. It must be poured down the sewage drain, just like in Mosul. Will the day come when we will see a campaign to sign official statements in the name of the Islamic Lebanese State between the Levant and Mesopotamia?

Rifi and sectarian strife

On August 31st, the office of Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi issued a statement asking the Cassation Public Prosecutor to pursue and arrest individuals who burned ISIS’ flag in the Achrafieh neighborhood of Beirut and – most importantly – prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. The minister, praise the Lord, noticed that the act “desecrates religious symbols” and religions, singling out “monotheistic religions.” While Rifi did not forget to remind everyone that this act could “incite sectarian strife,” the latter was incited immediately after his call and warnings. Social networking sites were aflood with defenders of the right to burn the flag as well as those who oppose the act. Some suggested that Rifi’s call was motivated – God forbid – by “electoral reasons.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Why believe the lie of Allah and 80 virgins when you do not have to die and can actually enjoy yourself physically here on earth looking at all those lovely nude middle eastern ladies.

Is that too much common sense for the islamist facist?

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