Egypt must block pornographic websites, its public prosecutor ordered on Wednesday, a move likely to be popular with resurgent religious conservatives, but eyed with suspicion by liberals who fear increasing censorship.
Prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud ordered government authorities “to take the necessary measures to block any corrupt or corrupting pornographic pictures or scenes inconsistent with the values and traditions of the Egyptian people and the higher interests of the state.”
Mahmoud said his ruling was in response to a 2009 court ruling that such sites be blocked. It was not clear if political prodding had led to the latest decision.
Mahmoud was widely criticized in October after the acquittal of senior Mubarak-era officials charged with organizing violence during the uprising that deposed the leader.
New President Mohamed Mursi was thwarted in an attempt last month to replace Mahmoud by appointing him ambassador to the Vatican.
In September, Telecommunications Minister Hany Mahmoud was quoted in the media as saying it would be technically difficult to block porn sites and that the correct way to address the issue would be to raise awareness among the young.
Pornographic and other sites are routinely blocked in many Middle Eastern countries, including Gulf Arab states and Iran, but local users often find ways to circumvent the restrictions.