Iraq’s first Internet cafe was opened in Baghdad last week by the Iraqi government, in an attempt to provide its people with a glimpse to the outside world, AP reported.
Customers of the Internet cafe will be allowed to browse almost any Web site - provided it does not violate "the precepts of Islamic religion" or offend "morals and ethics," Transport and Communications Minister, Ahmed Khalil, said
According to AP, the sites will be screened before being relayed to users. Nonetheless, in a country where satellite dishes and modems are banned and special permission is required to install a fax machine, the Internet cafe is a bold step forward.
The sole provider of Internet services in Iraq is the Ministry of Culture and Information and web access until now had been restricted to government use.
Khalil said similar cafes would open in other major Iraqi cities. He vowed to do everything possible to help Iraq catch up on Internet technology, the AP noted.
Meanwhile, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has ordered a university be set up to deal exclusively with computer technology so Iraqis will be kept abreast of advances, said the agency.
The bright, air-conditioned cafe charges 2,000 Dinars, equivalent to $1, per each hour of computer use. This is a substantial sum in Iraq, where an average monthly schoolteacher’s salary stands on around 6,000 Dinars ($3), added the AP.
“It is our first outpost of information technology. I hope the authorities will not stop here," said Husam Kareem, who runs a computer shop in Baghdad.
Baghdad blames UN sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait for the delay in introducing the Internet and the inability to set up a cellular phone network in the country, according to the agency. - (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )