Facebook Anti-porn Campaign Sparks Backlash in Jordan

Jul 17, 2012 8:30 AM PST

AMMAN, Jordan — A Facebook anti-porn crusade has ignited a fiery backlash from proponents of Internet freedom that spilled into the streets of the kingdom of Jordan.

A demonstration was held last Sunday outside of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in support of a Facebook online campaign that calls for the government to block porn sites.

The anti-porn movement was started by Ammar Al Saket, a father of two who said at the rally, "The government should immediately instruct telecom companies and Internet Services Providers to block these websites."

But according to the Jordan Times (MENAFN), opponents of the Facebook initiative also took their message to the people on Sunday slamming the anti-porn organizers.

The demonstrators warned that Internet freedom in Jordan is in real danger.

"Calls for blocking pornographic sites will open the door for the government to restrict Internet freedoms in Jordan," one protester said in a statement.

The pro-porn movement began in April in response to the anti-porn sites activists.

Haydar Khalil posted on Facebook that allowing the government to block porn sites will make it easier for it to block other sites such as scientific or news sites, further warning that blocking porn would only create a "black market for pornography" in Jordan, and sales of CDs and DVDs with adult content will increase sharply.

"Families should pay attention to their children... There are also pornographic channels on satellite television," he pointed out.

But Ayman Hamdan, a supporter of the proposed ban disagreed and said the government should block adult content.

"There is no freedom when it comes to watching pornography sites that contradict our religious and social beliefs," he said.

Critics of the ban pointed out that there are always technical workarounds that make it easy to circumvent any government blocks.

During Sunday's demonstration, some participants also noted that porn can still get through email spam.

Despite the controversy, Hussein Khuzai, associate professor of sociology at Balqa Applied University, lauded the debates.

"This heated debate is democratic and healthy.  The issue of pornographic sites and their impact on society is a very courageous topic to discuss," Khuzai told The Jordan Times.

"Certainly, the availability and accessibility of these websites have an impact on society, but some may argue it is a matter of freedom.

"The Internet and social networking sites are becoming a major platform in Jordan for discussing social issues and this is a change in society's behavior," he said.

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