Afghanistan bans the Internet

Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia has banned the Internet to prevent un-Islamic influences until the country builds its own telephone network.

Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakel said the restrictions applied to government officials and ordinary citizens, but not international relief agencies and the United Nations, which are helping to rebuild the war-torn country.

"When the telephone system is established in Afghanistan, then legal use could be made of it," Mutawakel said.

However, Internet use is practically non-existent with UN figures showing only eight Afghans in every 1000 have access to telephones.

Users must log on to Internet service providers in neighbouring Pakistan, denying the fundamentalist Taliban militia the power of censorship.

The Taliban has also banned television, cinema and music under its unique brand of Islamic law. More recently, women were barred from having picnics and going to tourist resorts.

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