KABUL—A total of 17 internet cafes in the capital city of Kabul have been forcibly closed by Afghan authorities for allowing surfers to access “immoral websites,” according to Pakhwok Afghan News.
The Afghan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) had reportedly warned operators last week that they cannot allow customers to look at porn or other un-Islamic websites. A member of ATRA, Muhammad Ibrahim Abbasi, told reporters that the Authority was under order from the council of ministers to “ban all immoral activities of net cafes, which had been violating Islamic teachings and the constitution of the country.”
A subsequent investigation turned up the 17 cafes, which were ordered to close immediately. Owners can appeal the decisions if they can prove the alleged activity was not taking place. If a reversal of the decision to close a café takes place, the owner can also request compensation.
One such owner, Muhammad Shoib Nafisi, complained that not only were his patrons not looking at porn, but he was never notified of the impending crackdown.
"If the ministry really wants to ban such websites, first of all they should ban the net providers," he added.
The barring of access to “immoral” sites is supposedly taking place in order to prevent the corruption of “the youth,” but according to Reuters, other, more political reasons may be behind the crackdown.
“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 hard-line movement is likely to object to,” the article stated, adding, “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.”