Tunisia’s Internet agency said Tuesday it would apply a court ruling and block all pornographic websites, raising fresh fears over censorship in the country.

The court of appeals upheld a lower court decision and ordered the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) to censor X-rated sites on the basis that they were a danger to young people and were contrary to Muslim values.

The ATI said it has “initiated a plan to carry out filters” but that the process would be gradual because the filters have not been updated since the collapse of former president Zine El Abidibe Ben Ali’s regime in January.

At the time of the appeal, ATI director Moez Chakchouk was reported to have said that he would refuse to have filtering equipment in his own home.

According to the Tunisian website Business news, seven pornographic sites appeared among the 100 most visited sites in the north African country since censorship was lifted in January. Five of them were among the 50 most consulted.

In early May, several sites and Facebook profiles were blocked by the ATI on the orders of a military tribunal, although the reason was not clear.

A leading defender of freedom of expression on the Internet and noted blogger Slim Amamou, who was named junior minister for youth on January 17 in the interim government, resigned following the censorship.

Amamou criticised the renewed censorship on the Internet and stated that he would “feel more useful outside the government.”

Image credits : (AFP/File/Fethi Belaid)