Quietly, Censorship Takes Hold in Iraq

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2009 8:14 AM CDT
Kurdish patrons at a local cafe in Halabja, Iraq, Sunday, June 24, 2007.   (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed)
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(Newser) – When Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003, his draconian censorship laws fell with him, and Iraq was flooded with American news, Egyptian soap operas, and Turkish music videos—not to mention pornography and jihadist videos. But now, reports the New York Times, censorship is quietly making a comeback in Iraq, particularly via Internet controls. One nonprofit press freedom group called the new rules "a return of dictatorship."

The Iraqi government is pushing legislation to ban sites it considers harmful or immoral, as well as forcing Internet cafes to register with officials or face closure. Iraq's constitution guarantees freedom of expression only insofar as it "does not violate public order and morality." One book publisher said that she was hopeful about freedom of expression after 2003. "But instead of activating and encouraging publishing houses, they are incapacitating them."