CAIRO, Egypt – Pyramids yes, porn no. An Egyptian court banned porn websites Tuesday, calling them "venomous and vile."
According to the country's state-owned MENA news agency, the Administrative Court in Cairo issued the ruling in a case filed by Islamic lawyer Nizar Ghorab, who argued sites with adult content undermined and destroyed Egyptian social values.
In its ruling, the court, which oversees government-related cases, said, "Letting these Web sites (operate) ruins moral values," reports the BBC. "Freedoms of expression and public rights should be restricted by maintaining the fundamentals of religion, morality and patriotism."
Additionally, the court warned government Web agencies that Internet providers ignoring the ruling and allowing access to the sites would be "unconstitutional" and in violation of law. The Ministry of Communications, which regulates Internet providers in Egypt, has not yet responded to the decision.
Ghorab, on the other hand called judgment "a victory over vice and corruption."
"Thank God we won, now the government should stop these electronic dens of vice immediately," he said.
Judge Mohammed Attiya told the court, "freedoms and public rights are not absolute, they are limited by the respect of the family which is the base of the society" reports news service AFP.
Ghorab cited a recent case of a man and his wife sentenced to prison for creating a swingers club through the Internet and said it "highlights the dangers posed by such offensive websites."
The ruling may be appealed in a higher court, but Ghorab suggested such a move would embarrass the government.
"They will be looked like those promoting pornography," he said adding the case "has nothing to do with personal freedom. If freedom harms others, it is no longer a freedom."
According to 2007 government figures, Egypt has the largest number of Internet users in the Arab world, estimated at 12 million. Unlike other Middle East countries, the government generally does not restrict website access, other than some cases regarding political sites. Countries that have blocked porn and other sites as well include Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Tunisia.