Ban books and internet sites – is that why 4,331 Americans died for Iraqi "freedom"?

The Iraq government decision to control the flow of information both in print and online have raised fears of a crackdown on free speech reminiscent of the regime of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein.

AFP reports that a decision to screen imported books plus plans for Internet filters are being seen as a sign that the years of freer expression ushered in by the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam could be coming to an end:

“In its first move, the government last month introduced rules requiring that all imported printed works be vetted to weed out those that promote “sectarianism.”

“The government in its defence says the regulations will help to prevent a return of the sectarian fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that devastated the country in 2006 and 2007, killing thousands of people,” the report added.

The NY Times also shed light on the plans:

The attempt to limit access to information was prompted by a meeting in May in which Mr. Maliki asked his ministers to develop methods to halt material entering Iraq — whether via the Internet or over its borders — that advocated violence or included sexual content.

In July, a government committee recommended that the drafting of a law allowing for official Internet monitoring and the prosecution of violators be expedited.

Among the prohibited sites, according to the committee’s report, would be those with subject matter including “drugs, terrorism, gambling, negative remarks about Islam and pornography.”

In a weird twist, Ahmed Mohammed Raouf, chief engineer for the State Company for Internet Services, said he had mixed feelings about censorship, because he held a similar position in Mr. Hussein’s government and remembers being ordered to filter any site that was even remotely antiregime, the Times reported.

All public internet cafes in Iraq will soon be forced to register themselves through the upcoming centralized hub.

This is the Iraqi idea of freedom and democracy?

We expended thousands of American lives to gain a few the right to censor the rest. Tens of thousands of our soldiers were wounded so they could ban books. A trillion dollars was spent of taxpayer money to establish a theocracy.

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