War on Terror
War on Terror

Is Porn in Iraq a Sign of Progress?

| by Reason Foundation
Porn, in an odd way, has told the story of Iraq's security and political situation since Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003. It emerged in the anything-goes atmosphere that erupted in the vacuum immediately following the U.S. invasion - then went back into hiding amid the anarchy when armed militias roamed the capital through 2008, targeting those they saw as immoral. Its reemergence since then reflects how security has improved but also how the fragile government is busy with more pressing issues than spicy videos.

With politicians deadlocked the past five month trying to form a new government, whether [street vendor] Hanoun stays in business depends less on customer demand than on who takes the reins of power and if security is maintained.

The openness with which porn is sold in some of Baghdad's streets is almost unheard of in the Arab world.

In every country in the region except Lebanon, Israel and Turkey, pornography is illegal, in a nod to conservative Muslim sentiment. That's not to say it doesn't exist - international satellite channels and the Internet pipe it straight into people's homes, though many governments try to block obscene websites. Police, not having to grapple with daily bombings like in Baghdad, have more time to keep it off the streets.


USA Today's account of the thriving porn market in post-Saddam (if not post-U.S.) suggests that the current government in Iraq successfully cracked down on the militias who were extra-legally policing the street markets of Baghdad. However, the story notes that problems continue in the skin-flick trade:

In a nod to the politically elusive dream of Arab unity, Hanoun carries a collection entitled "Cheap Meat.""It's got Syrian, Egyptian, Lebanese girls," he says. "All the Arabs."But, in an ironic symbol of the difficulty with which Arabs have had coming together, the DVD gets stuck in a loop in the first five minutes.


More, including obligatory mention of Daniel Baldwin, "the least-known of the Baldwin brothers," here.

In 2002, Charles Paul Freund wrote about how "vulgarity" was liberating Islam - and the West.

And in 2003, he looked at the revolutionary implications of Arab music videos.