Thursday, March 08, 2007

Internet Filtering, Islamist Style

American librarians concerned with censorship issues might want to devote some of their attention to the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority. Not only do you have books being banned from school libraries, you also have a very unique form of Internet filtering being implemented:

A note stuck to the door of Mohammed al-Shaer's tiny music shop warned him several months ago that selling tapes and CDs of popular Arabic music was "haram," or forbidden by Islam.

He paid no heed until a bomb went off outside his business this week apparently the work of what Palestinian security officials now suspect may be a secret "vice squad" of Muslim militants.

"If they cared about their religion, they would (instead) stop people from killing each other," Al-Shaer, 19, said angrily.

In recent months, about three dozen Internet cafes, music shops and even pharmacies have been attacked, with assailants detonating small bombs outside businesses at night, causing damage but no injuries.

It appears that the radical Islamists involved are seeking their own solution to the issue of web pornography:

In deeply conservative Gaza, devout Muslims would consider Internet cafes to be dens of vice because young men are known to view pornography there. Music shops could be a target because some believers fear pop music distracts from prayers. The targeting of pharmacies remains a mystery, though, officials say.

Fears of an Islamic cultural crackdown have risen since the Islamic Hamas took over the government a year ago after winning an election. On Monday, Education Ministry officials said they removed an anthology of folk tales from school libraries because of explicit sexual language, destroying 1,500 books.

Entertainment in Gaza is extremely limited there are no movie houses or theaters. Surfing the Net and listening to music are among the only outlets for the young, and hundreds of small Internet cafes and music shops operate across Gaza, some even near mosques.

As noted above, it isn't just the Internet that the Islamists are trying to suppress. They're not exactly music fans either:

Several music shops in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, have received warnings in recent months not to sell pop music.

Khamis Abdeen, 20, said he removed most tapes and CDs but left several dozen tapes with the latest songs on the shelves of his family's shop, hoping he could sell them quickly. At the beginning of the year, the shop was attacked, damaging $5,000 worth of merchandise, he said. Abdeen has stopped selling tapes.

Of course, none of this will get a fraction of the attention that Scrotumgate received. After all, Palestinian Islamists can't be considered a true threat to intellectual freedom until they say bad things about The Higher Power of Lucky.


Anonymous professor ed said...

Do I denote just a touch of sarcasm? Yes, I agree, our ALA intellectual freedom watchdogs, are VERY SELECTIVE in their criticsm of world governments.

11:52 AM  

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