Hamas bans pornographic websites in Gaza Strip

GAZA (Reuters) - Islamist group Hamas has told the main Palestinian telecoms company to block access to pornographic Internet sites in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas government official said on Monday.

Gaza’s Ministry of Communications said in a statement that telecommunications firm PALTEL has agreed to block Internet users in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave from viewing adult websites starting this month.

“The aim of the move is to protect the Palestinian community from cultural pollution and to protect the young generations from the misuse of the Internet through viewing pornographic sites,” Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nono said.

An Internet provider in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas seized in June after routing President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah forces, estimated that about 400,000 Gazans surf the Web and said almost half of them were aged 18-35.

Attacks against video stores and Internet cafes have increased over the past two years. Some of the attacks had been claimed by radical Muslim groups who say such places run contrary to Islamic values.

Other Muslim countries such as Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia also control access to some political, social and pornographic websites.

PALTEL could not immediately be reached for comment.

Writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Editing by Avida Landau and Ibon Villelabeitia