Saturday, June 25, 2005

Censorship Snips

One of the most frustrating aspects of living here is the strictness of the censorship. Now, I know that they (being the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue - really!!), are trying to prevent their people from being corrupted by the decadent Western values we find normal, but I sometimes think they take themselves a bit too seriously .....
Internet users are banned from many, many sites - including any which mention pigs or sheep (even cartoon ones!) Whole sites containing millions of innocent, non-porno photos have been blocked because they also contain one or two photos which are considered "offensive".
Obvious topics, such as porn or gambling, are well known. But many other subjects are also unacceptable, including any reference to history mentioning disputes between the different emirates before independence.

This is the message which comes up when you try to access these "dirty, perverted, disgusting" sites :

We apologize, the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.
And, if the government and its watchdogs happen to miss spotting a miscreant - there are a number of self-ordained morals watchers who will pounce and threaten anyone they consider to have overstepped the boundaries, with all sorts of dire consequences, including arrest and deportation!!
DD was flabbergasted when she bought the Cosmo magazine and found a number of pages, showing models in swimming costumes and lingerie, scribbled on with a black felt pen. It is actually somebody's job to page through each and every copy of the magazines and then blot out all the scantily clad butts! What is his job title : "Butt blotter"??
And talking of immoral .... you really must watch a video here - or even a movie or tv show. They are all censored, but not with bleeps, they actually cut out whole sections which contain words or actions which they consider offensive. So, if you are watching a love scene, it would go something like this :
"Oh, Jeff, I ..... you and .... you to .... me"
"Oh, Linda, let me .... my .... on you .... and feel the .... of your .... on my ...."
Well, you can substitute your own words of course, and then it either becomes a hysterical comedy, or a REALLY xxx-rated film!!
Then, of course, they slice out any reference to God, Allah, Royalty, divinity or religion of any kind, as well as any "swear" words, which include damn, gosh, golly, heck, bother, etc. Any mention of a body part is removed, unless it is visible when wearing one of their abayas, and as you know, this means that "eyes" are about the limit! Politics, gambling, partying, drugs, drinking, car chases, etc - all no-no's.
So, a movie which lasts 2 to 3 hours elsewhere, here consists of :
The Beginning ....
"Oh you have beautiful eyes"
....The End!!!


Anonymous said...

I was lead to your blog from expatmums. I am an American who has converted to islam. I know that the point of your article is censorship, and coming from a democracy I agree that censorship is wrong. But understanding where islam is coming from and that UAE is a muslim country these things should not be a surprise. And sometimes don't human beings need some limits. I am not saying the UAE goverment is the authority on what the limits are, I just think they do the best they can to fulfill their religous convictions. Plus why do we neeed to see women naked, or explicit sex or violence. The human race is sick enough without us seeing our sicknesses in front of us.

Anonymous said...


When I first went to South Africa in 1985 it was also the same there was lots of censorship books in Librarys had words blocked out with Black felt tip pen and also tv was censored

Lulu said...

Anonymous #1 : I absolutely agree with you - let each country decide on what and how much to censor. It is just quite an adjustment for the younger generation of "westernised" kids who have been exposed to so much more than we were.

But bear in mind that the parts of the magazine that were blacked out were not nudity, explicit sex or violence - they were bathing suit adverts. There is also a lot of inconsistency in that some fairly mild pictures and swearwords are banned, but I have seen really cringeworthy pictures and heard foul language on tv that has passed the censorship.
Anyway, like the rest of this blog - this entry is just MY observation of my experience - no moral judgement intended.

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