TUNISIA—The northernmost country in Africa has decided that it can make a go of it without internet porn, at least officially. A member of the Arab League and the African Union, Tunisia has just gone through what is being called the Jasmine Revolution, which saw the eventual overthrow of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled the nation with an iron fist since 1987.
Tunisia’s embrace of democracy has not yet resulted in a complete acceptance of controversial content, however, even though the move to censor websites has been met with significant opposition within the country, including the recent resignation of noted blogger Slim Amamou, whose heroism during the uprising led to his appointment in January as a junior minister for youth in the interim government.
"Nothing has changed," Amamou Tweeted, after resigning in the wake of an earlier order by the military to block four websites. "We're still in the Ben Ali era as long as there aren't new elections."
The irony here is that porn sites, which had been previously inaccessible to all but the savviest surfers, were becoming increasingly popular in post-revolution Tunisia. According to the Global Post, “Since censorship ended in January, seven porn sites have appeared among the 100 most visited websites in Tunisia, with five in the top 50, the Tunisian internet site Business News reports.”
In late May, however, a court ordered that the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) block all porn sites after “three lawyers filed a suit in a Tunisian court, arguing that pornographic websites were a danger to Tunisia’s young people and ran contrary to Muslim values.”
Yesterday, an appeals court upheld the ruling, and today the ATI said it was ready to begin implementing the censorship.