Wonderful: Iraqi government quietly imposing Saddam-like censorship laws

“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.”

But opponents of the proposals question why Iraq would seek to impose the same sorts of censorship that had been among the most loathed aspects of daily life under Saddam Hussein and suggest that they are another example of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s working to consolidate his power. The new policies will put Iraq more in line with neighboring Islamic states.

The new rules constitute a “return of dictatorship,” said Ziad al-Ajeeli, who directs the Society to Defend the Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit Iraqi group…

Iraq’s Constitution is not clear on the matter. It guarantees freedom of expression, but only if it “does not violate public order and morality.”…

This month, the government has started to require dozens of Internet cafes to register with the government or be closed.

“We are living in such a dangerous time that we need to control things,” said Majeed H. Jasim, director of the State Company for Internet Services.