nettime's_roving_reporter on Mon, 17 Apr 2000 22:39:27 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Women-only internet cafe closed down in Mecca


Monday, 17 April, 2000, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Internet clampdown in Mecca

The authorities in Mecca, in western Saudi Arabia, have shut down a
women-only internet cafe for reasons of public morality.

The cafe, near Mecca University, was closed last week after a
complaint was filed in court alleging that the cafe had been used for
"immoral purposes", according to the English-language Arab News.

"What was uncovered was against both our religion and our traditions,"
said Brigadier Yousuf Matter of the civil police.

He gave no details as to what offence had actually been committed.

Internet use in Saudi Arabia has boomed in recent years, and internet
cafes have become a popular place for young people to meet.

Brigadier Matter said that the court had also given him permission to
close other internet cafes in the city.

The cafe was popular with postgraduates in the modern Aziziah suburb.


Mecca, Islam's holiest city, has a large Saudi and international student
population that attends the university.

A regular customer at the cafe, Fowzayah Maqbool, said that the cafe
had been misused, but did not elaborate.

"Now all of us have been barred from using the cafe," she said.

There are 100,000 registered internet users in Saudi Arabia.

Public internet access, through cafes and universities, is heavily
restricted in terms of which websites can be viewed.

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