An association of clerics in the Kurdistan Region recently petitioned the regional Ministry of Transportation and Communication and a relevant court to block pornographic websites from being accessed by the public, the organization’s leader said Thursday.
“We requested an end to the broadcast of pornographic electronic pages and sites,” after “many people expressed concern regarding the matter,” Dr. Abdulla Said Girtiki, leader of the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union, told Kurdistan 24.
"According to the latest statistics," he claimed, eighty percent of Iraqis “misuse” the internet and social media sites.
Girtiki did not name the research cited and did not explain what standard had been used to identify proper versus improper use of the internet, nor how such information was gathered. Kurdistan 24 could find no recent studies conducted in Iraq that appear to fit the description he gave.
He explained that his organization had made the move to “preserve the morality” of Kurdish society, which he purported had significantly deteriorated due to members of the general public having visited such websites.
The Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union holds no official state power but is consulted by the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs on various matters, including the issuance of fatwas and other pronouncements.
Various Iraqi parties or associations have led similar efforts in the past, but have so far proven unsuccessful. The federal government has for years blocked some sites, namely those linked to the outlawed Baath party. Using modern technologies that enable users to access blocked websites, many internet users are able to circumvent such restrictions.
In 2015, India implemented a law restricting more than 800 pornographic websites. The move was met by widespread criticism as many pondered the implications for individual freedom and government censorship. New Delhi reversed the decision shortly thereafter while maintaining its restriction only over sites that promoted graphic content involving minors.
The law, however, was fully reinstated in late 2018. Researchers say that data tracking the number visits to websites hosting pornographic content indicate that the ban has been ineffective in reducing viewership, as the storage of such materials were transported to proxy servers from which Indian internet users could access them.