The doors of the communications revolution were thrown open in Iraq after the American-led invasion in 2003: In rushed a wave of music videos featuring scantily clad Turkish singers, Web sites recruiting suicide bombers, racy Egyptian soap operas, pornography, romance novels, and American and Israeli news and entertainment sites that had long been blocked under Saddam Hussein's rule.It seems Iraq is becoming more like America every day.
Now those doors may be shut again, at least partially, as the Iraqi government moves to ban sites deemed harmful to the public, to require Internet cafes to register with the authorities and to press publishers to censor books.
The government, which has been proceeding quietly on the new censorship laws, said prohibitions were necessary because material currently available in the country had had the effect of encouraging sectarian violence in the fragile democracy and of warping the minds of the young.
"Our Constitution respects freedom of thought and freedom of expression, but that should come with respect for society as a whole, and for moral behavior," said Taher Naser al-Hmood, Iraq's deputy cultural minister. "It is not easy to balance security and democracy. It is like being a tightrope walker."