Page last updated at 18:20 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 19:20 UK

Egyptian court 'bans porn sites'

Computer internet website search for pornography
The Egyptian government does not restrict access to internet sites

A court in Cairo has issued a ruling that bans pornographic websites in Egypt, state news agency Mena reports.

The Administrative Court in Cairo has ordered the government to block the "venomous and vile" sites in response to a case filed by a Muslim lawyer.

Nizar Ghorab had argued that the "electronic dens of vice" were destroying Egyptian social values.

The Ministry of Communications, which regulates internet providers in Egypt, says it has not heard of the decision.

"Letting these websites [operate] ruins moral values," AFP news agency quoted the court ruling as saying.

"Freedoms of expression and public rights should be restricted by maintaining the fundamentals of religion, morality and patriotism."

'Victory over vice'

The lawyer welcomed the decision as a "victory over vice and corruption".

"Thank God we won. Now the government should stop these electronic dens of vice immediately," said Mr Ghorab, who filed the suit on his own initiative.

The decision can be appealed in a higher court, but would put the government in the awkward position of being seen to defend pornography, he added.

Unlike some other Middle Eastern countries, Egypt generally does not restrict access to the internet.

There are an estimated 12 million Egyptian internet users, the largest in the Arab world.

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