It appears the "religious police" have arrived in Iraq. Internet cafe patrons are being kidnapped, tortured, and even killed for viewing website that a group of vigilante religious police have deemed "offensive to Islam." Most of the cafe owners or patrons are abducted and killed for accessing chat and/or pornography sites.
Prior to the fall of the Baath regime the "offensive" sites were blocked; however now the access is laregly unrestricted in internet cafes. The article discusses how the Iraqi government or law does not officially prohibit the access of any genre of sites. The government has however, refused to comment on requests for protection of its citizens and private business owners. Schools have started to compile lists of banned sites that are blocked on their computers.
Schools and private business owners decision to ban certain sites is an executive decision; the computers and internet service is their's and they can offer it in whatever condition they want for their customers or students. Hopefully the decision is in the best interest of their students, patrons, or their own well being and not just capitulation to the vigilante repression of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.
It's easy to understand why the Iraqi government cannot respond to cafe owners concerns with police protection given the violent civil unrest present in the country. However, that doesn't preclude the government from standing up for the rights of its citizens. A statement that this type of terrorism is not acceptable and will not be tolerated may be a hollow statement in that enforcement is less important than stablizing the government and nation as a whiole, but it is a statement that needs to be made if the Iraqi government wants to maintain the appearance of and belief in the foundational elements of a democracy. If the Iraqi government refuses to remain strong in the face of Islamist and hardline religious fanatics, the long-term forecast for the Iraqi government is even bleaker than the military threats suggest.
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