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    ATRA shuts down 17 net cafes in Kabul

    KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan’s telecom watchdog on Monday shut down 17 internet cafes in the capital Kabul for allowing access to “immoral websites”, officials said.

    The net cafes had been warned last week not to allow customers to look at porn or other un-Islamic websites in their venues or face action, Muhammad Ibrahim Abbasi, a member of Afghan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA), said.

    He said the council of ministers had ordered the ATRA officials to ban all immoral activities of net cafes, which had been violating Islamic teachings and the constitution of the country,

    An ATRA investigation found that 17 net cafes in the capital were offering illegal services, Abbasi told reporters in Qala-i-Fatullah, an area of the capital, as he shut down one such café.

    Abbasi said cafe owners could appeal the decision by proving to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology that their activities were not illegal.

    He said that if their activities proved legal, they would be alllowed to reopen.

    But some café owners said the ATRA had no justification shutting down their businesses.  

    Muhammad Shoib Nafisi, who owns the Business Net Café in Kabul, said no one looked at illegal websites in his café. He said the ATRA did not inform café owners before they took the action and such closures were illegal.

    "If the ministry really wants to ban such websites, first of all they should ban the net providers," he said.

    If the allegations were not true the netcafé owners could claim for compensation, a prosecutor, Abdul Hai, accompanying the ATRA, said.

    The banning of immoral websites which corrupt the youth was a great step, Suleman Faizi, a resident of Qala-i-Fatullah area, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    frm/cas