ISIS-infested Iraq has time to worry about porn sites

Iraqis, beware of pornography websites as they are the biggest threat to you - at least this is what we should conclude from the current campaign to ban porn sites. In a nutshell: “Never mind the angry protests, or political parties’ violations of freedoms, or the rise of religious parties, or government’s increased failures; only worry about porn sites.”

This rhetoric is present in a country where innocent people are victims of explosions, murder and slaughter; where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has celebrated its second year in control of Iraqi areas; and where Iran proves its status as a political and military authority. All this is happening amid political bickering that divides the Iraqi people and destroys whatever is left of a state that is woefully corrupt.

The momentum of the campaign against porn sites was increased by the involvement of top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani, who issued a fatwa (religious edict) prohibiting such sites. The fatwa mobilized MPs to gain approval and collect signatures to legislate a law that bans these sites. Such religious and political enthusiasm has never been available for other problems that affect Iraqi lives and livelihoods, such as violence and corruption.

He who shows up today warning of the threat of pornography amid all this violence does not mean to protect Iraqis as much as tighten his grip on them

Diana Moukalled

Since 2003, Iraqi markets have been selling videos of murder, torture and horror under former President Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaeda and now ISIS. He who shows up today warning of the threat of pornography amid all this violence does not mean to protect Iraqis as much as tighten his grip on them.

Yes, there are millions in the Arab and Muslim worlds who surf porn sites. According to Google, the 10 countries that watch the most porn include countries in the Middle East. Google also shows what words and footage are searched for when viewing these sites.

Links with violence

“Pain” is the fourth word in the search engine from Iraq when surfing such sites. These details reveal changes in society, and imply that violence has found its way into collective sexual awareness. This indicates the progress of violence, and shows it as an imminent threat as sex can become ordinary when void of violence. For sex to be linked to violence means that what threatens Iraqis is violence, not porn sites.

Arab and Muslim countries declare strict, conservative social values and punish whoever violates them. However, facts and numbers show that reality is completely different, as we evade the fact that some Muslim countries are among those that watch the most porn, at a time when the region is suffering from war and violence.

Is there a link between the spreading of violence and preoccupation with porn sites? Sigmund Freud says most people’s sexuality includes aggression. The relation between violence, authority and sex is something worth looking into in our countries, which are still governed by this triad.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 3, 2015.

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Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

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