Porn fans of Egypt unite against crackdown

Egypt's increasingly influential Salafis won a victory this week by pressuring the government to finally implement a 2009 court ruling, enacted under former President Hosni Mubarak, to ban pornography. On Wednesday, Egyptian Prosector Abdel Maguid Mahmoud instructed authorities to "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."

There are already strong reactions, with many on twitter using #EgyPornBan to either advocate mass downloading before the ban is enacted or to question the legitimacy of restricting freedom of expression.

While it has not been made public how and when the ban will actually be enforced, there are those like journalist and presidential advisor, Ayman El-Sayad, who think that the government should be "more concerned about the drafting of Egypt's new constitution" and other more pressing issues.

The ban does have serious consequences, however, as it upholds the ruling that the "freedom of expression and public rights should be restricted by maintaining the fundamentals of religion, morality and patriotism." How Egyptians decide to tackle the issue of who gets to decide what their values are, could have far reaching consequences down the road. There is also the dangerous precedent set by countries such as Russia, China and the United States, who have been accused of using anti-child-pornography laws to implement web censorship.  

Egypt's porn ban will make it harder to spread "harmful" content on the internet, but for the Islamist's moral purposes, it probably won't work.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images


Decline Watch or Renewal Watch?

Since the election picked up, I've been remiss in updating our semi-regular "Decline Watch" feature, which charts examples of America's falling fortunes and reduced influence in the world. But after reading that America's newest job creator might be Foxconn -- the Taiwanese technology manufacturer best known for suicides and riots at its Chinese plants -- I'm wondering if we should create a new category for news that could conceivably be signs of either decline or renewal:

With an 800,000 strong workforce largely based in mainland China, Foxconn is one of the businesses that has profited from the decline of western manufacturing. Now the firm is apparently planning to reverse the labour drain by opening American factories.

As labour costs surge in its home market Foxconn has been looking overseas for opportunities, and sources have told Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes that the company is evaluating cities including Detroit and Los Angeles.

The Guardian notes that despite the welcome increase in U.S. manufacturing jobs, "Foxconn will have to adapt its formula, however, because America does not have armies of workers willing to survive on a few hundred dollars a month and live in dormitories."