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Blocking Websites in Egypt: Attempt To Silence Opposition
The Egyptian regime blocked the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English web site from surfers in Egypt to continue its repressive practices against the opposition.
Monday, April 2,2007 00:00
by Ikhwanweb

Ikhwanweb Blocked In Egypt For 4th Time In One Year

The Egyptian regime blocked the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English web site from surfers in Egypt to continue its repressive practices against the opposition.

This is the fourth time in which the MB official web sit, www.ikhwanweb.com was blocked since it was first launched.

The first attempt to block it was while it was covering the parliamentary elections in December 2005 and was blocked also in Dec. 2006 for a few hours.

The third time was on Jan., 6, 2007 after the website posted some torture cases that Egyptian citizens are facing in Egyptian prisons and police stations .

This fourth time comes while the web site is covering the issue of transferring civilians to military courts; the web site posted some media propaganda for spreading the issue of the military courts on the sidelines of the fifth Cairo conference of the international campaign against War. The web site has been covering also the human rights file which has contained many violations and abuses from the Egyptian regime and it covered rigging the referendum on the constitutional amendments that took place last Monday.

It is worth mentioning that freedom of expression is seriously deteriorating while the Egyptian courts are hearing three cases against journalists:

Ibrahim Eissa editor-in-chief of Al-Dustoor newspaper

Wael Al Ibrashi editor-in-chief of Sawt Al Umma newspaper,

Howaida Taha, a journalist and a scriptwriter at Aljazeera,

These journalists are standing trial because of their free opinions in criticizing the Egyptian regime’s dictatorial policies against the Egyptian opposition .

For his part, Khaled Salam, the editor-in-chief of Ikhwanweb said that blocking the web site by the Egyptian regime proves that this fascist and repressive regime attempts to hide truth from reaching people.

Salam added that these attempts are unsuccessful because the voice of the truth and right will reach all people by all means.

Salam confirmed that the web site’s policy is stable; it will continue resisting tyranny and repression of the ruling regimes; Ikhwanweb won’t subjugate to any blackmail or pressure.

Repression Under Claims of Keeping Identity

Under claims of fighting terrorism, preventing pornography, preserving the identity, guarding public stability, the security services in our Arab world are blocking hundreds of thousands of websites, and are throwing behind bars dozens of Arab bloggers who gave vent to their ideas and beliefs in the cyberspace, seeking an Electronic "asylum".

The security services are hunting people even in the cyberspace and blogosphere through espionage, harassment and blocking web sites and weblogs, and even jailing them mostly without any legal procedures and without having any specific legislations concerned with sanctions of e-publishing.

Observers notice that the cyberspace and blogosphere have become new battlefields for the clash between governments and freedom-seeking opposition, and that there is a clear enmity between these governments and the Internet. However, the Internet will remain an unattainable opponent; whenever authorities block a web site, dozens others are emerging.

The Egyptian Interior Minister, Habib Al-Adli, suggested, in the meeting of the Interior Ministers held in Tunisia, creating a lobby group that consists of Arab governments to shut down and block web sites that support terrorism, and stoke hatred, but he didn’t give a specific definition to the meaning of terrorism, opening the door for violating the freedom of expression on the cyberspace.

17 human rights organizations have declared that outright rejection to Arab interior ministers’ attempts to enact legislations that give them the right to block websites under allegations of fighting terrorism .

As for blocking websites in Egypt, the Egyptian government does not exercise a full blocking on the internet. Blocking the websites takes place " silently and without any propaganda".

The most famous incidents of blocking websites in Egypt include blocking Ikhwanonlin, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official Arabic website; after the website was blocked, the Muslim Brotherhood managed to launch more than 18 websites to express the group, forcing the authorities to lift its blocking the main website.

Also blocked were websites of Al Shaab newspaper, Egyptian affairs forum, and Egypt Salvation Front.

In the same way, the website "Freedom forums" was blocked from Egyptian surfers; this forum launched an electronic campaign entitled " No to Gamal Mubarak .. No hereditary transferee of rule", which was one of the first campaigns to publicly oppose the idea of transferring rule from Mubarak Sr. to Mubarak Jr.

It’s worth mentioning that the body authorized to block web sites is the Egyptian Cabinet because these web sites appear on the Internet through four internet service providers which are under the supervision of the Egyptian government.

Rights Activists: Regime Turns Battlefield to Cyberspace

Gamal Eid, the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said:" There is nothing new in the attitude of the Egyptian government, it issues finely worded statements about protecting the freedom of opinion and expression, but it is in fact exercising the same supervision and interdiction on the rights of the freedom of the press, expression and information sharing in oppressive and illegal methods " .

For his part, Saif Al-Islam Hamad , the manager of Hisham Mubark Centre For Human Rights said that the Egyptian regime wants to move the battlefield of the confrontation with the opposition from the street to the Internet.

Hamad stressed that these exercises confirm that the Egyptian regime doesn’t want any opposition even if it was on the Internet which is used by a few number of the Egyptians.

For his part, Dr. Diaa Rashwan, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for political studies said that blocking any website means that this website managed to succeed and to cross the red lines that the Egyptian regime putting in front of the freedom of expression.

Rashwan confirmed that the coming period after approving the constitutional amendments, the Egyptian political scene will witness more suppression of freedoms, and the biggest share of harassment will be laid on the Internet which is actually a real battlefield between the Egyptian regime and the opposition.

In a related context, judge Abdul Fattah Morad, the chief justice of the court of appeals filed lawsuit in front of the State Council against the Prime Minister, the Minister of Communications and Information., Justice Minister, Interior Minister and the attorney general, in which he demands obliging the Prime Minister to block and shut down 21 websites and weblogs, alleging that these web sites contain reports the defame Egypt and the president.

Th lawsuit included the web sites of the newspaper of Nahdat Misr, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Al Ghad newspaper, Kifaya Movement, Good News company, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, website of the Iraqi news agency, and others, in addition to some weblogs like:

News aggregator (http://foolab.org/aggregator/sources/39?page=1)

http://mohamed.katib.org/

bentmasreya.blogspot.com/

taranim.wordpress.com/

This is in addition to other human rights and news web sites.

Meanwhile, some human rights websites and weblogs have organized a campaign to defend the freedom of opinion and expression and to resist the attempt of blocking websites and weblogs.

These websites decided to establish a new website aiming at fighting any attempt to block any website and defending he freedom of expression; this website will be called sebona.net and it will contain all information related to this campaign and any violation against the right of Arab and Egyptian surfers to have a free, unblocked Internet.

The following are some of the signatories on the constitutive statement of this campaign

Hesham Mubarak Centre For Legal Aid

News aggregator (http://foolab.org/aggregator/sources/39?page=1)

Al-Nadim Center for the Psychological Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture

National Iraqi News Agency (NINA)

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

taranim.wordpress.com/

http://lawyer.katib.org

Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression

Egyptian Association Against Torture

bentmasreya.blogspot.com

http://mohamed.katib.org/

The Egyptian Initiative For Personal Rights

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