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Middle East Censorship News

2011: Jan-March

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31st March   

Update: Quick! Before the Next Lot Take Over...

Banned author takes window of opportunity to publish his Metro graphic novel in Egypt
Link Here

After years of waiting, arrests and a court case against Magdy el-Shafie, his Metro graphic novel will finally see widespread publishing in his country after the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak and the regime that cracked down on the cartoonist.

Shafie's Metro was originally written in 2008, but was quickly banned by the regime and the author was convicted of offending public decency after a lengthy trial.

The controversy started in April 2008, when police broke into the publishing house and confiscated all copies of the book. They then went to all bookstores and took the novel from the shelves, without warrant.

The novel deals with politically sensitive issues and what may have sparked government interest is the limited sexual content of the book. For many, it came as no surprise that the government was using this as a scapegoat to keep politics from reaching a wider audience.


31st March   

Update: The Army of the Imam...

Turkish authorities seize author and his unpublished book
Link Here
Full story: Book Censorship in Turkey...Freedom of speech under duress

Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by the seizure and destruction of all known copies of the last unpublished draft copy of a book by Ahmet Sik. This work, which explores the relationship between the police and the influential Islamic Gu len Movement, is said to contain revelations about the Ergenekon antiterrorist trial, which has tainted Turkish political life for years.

Not content with preventing its publication and throwing the author into jail, the Turkish judicial authorities searched the three locations where it was thought the draft copy might be found and ordered anyone who might still be in possession of it to hand it over to the authorities or face criminal charges.

Sik's lawyer had said the journalist planned to name the book The Army of the Imam , after influential Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gulen, who is believed to have millions of followers in Turkey.

Sik was jailed earlier this month along with six other journalists, accused of links to an alleged hardline secularist plot to topple Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in 2003.

Update: Book seizure noted by the EU

16th April 2011. See  article from

The European Union is expected to convey a series of warnings to Turkey during the next meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council, which will be held in Brussels on April 19.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is scheduled to attend the meeting of the council, which is reportedly getting ready to draw attention to a host of issues, ranging from press freedom to energy security, mentioned in a draft document of the EU Common Implementation Strategy.

On the issue of press freedom, the EU report maintained a critical stance, calling on Turkey to enact further legislation in order to better harmonize its laws with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, while expressing concern over the recent arrests of journalists, bans on certain Internet sites and the seizure of a draft manuscript.


19th March   

Offsite: The Funnier Side...

Arab cartoonists get freer hand as governments ease censorship
Link Here

Once a no-fly zone for caricaturists, region's leaders now get skewered

When Saudi political cartoonist Abdullah Jaber drew a caricature of Libyan leader Muammar Al-Qaddafi four years ago, his editor at the Al-Jazirah daily refused to publish it. Never mind that Al-Qaddafi ruled a distant country with no particularly close ties to Saudi Arabia. Cartoonists didn't make fun of the region's leaders.

But even in places like Saudi Arabia, where the anti-government protests sweeping the Middle East have failed to gain traction, red lines are rapidly fading. There is no law prohibiting such caricatures, but editors would simply not approve them, Jaber told The Media Line. But last week I published four caricatures of Al-Qaddafi and no one said a word.

...Read the full article


18th March   

Update: Turkey Freer than the USA!...

Turkish plan for profiled ISP internet blocking from August
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

In his speech this week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that he doesn't understand why foreigners are all talking about the lack of freedom of speech in Turkey.

Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Vice President Hu seyin Celik said Turkey was years ahead in its legislation and many times more free in terms of press freedom than the United States.


However, I understand that this vagueness will go on and will spread to the government's Internet regulations. After Aug. 22 we will have a totally different system. The government is so kind and father-like that it wants us to be fully protected from any kind of harm that the Internet can bring about. This is why they have decided to provide Internet services to us filtered from the source. It is too much hassle to ban websites one by one, therefore they will have bundles and lists. According to the current plans there will be four types of bundles available.

These will be called Standart Profile (Standart Profil), Children's Profile (Cocuk Profili), Family Profile (Aile Profili) and Domestic Internet Profile (Yurtici Internet Profili). All of these profiles will be censored to various degrees so that we will be protected just as our profile needs to be, because our government knows best.

Each profile will have two lists assigned; A black one and a white one. In the black list there will be websites that will be banned and in the white one there will be websites that are allowed to be surfed.

The government says that they ban websites at the source so that our children will be fully protected. There will be no room for the human error of parents. Banning websites will be fully automatic. However, the people who will be in charge of these practices and the standardization of establishing these lists are very vague. The government will be able to censor any website at will. You won't even notice it.

I would also kindly like to warn any foreigners against deigning to think that the new system to be introduced on Aug. 22 violates freedoms. And please don't voice your concerns. Our prime minister can get angry at you. In fact, don't even try to understand it because our government is way ahead of you.


18th March   

Updated: Disproportionate...

Turkey set to block thousands of blogs over a dispute with one or two
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

A ban on Google's blogging platform, Blogger, is expected to fully go into effect within a few days unless it is successfully challenged in court.

A spat over rights to broadcast Turkish football matches has led a local court to issue a blanket ban on the popular blogging platform Blogger, angering Turkish Internet users with what experts said was a disproportionate response.

The court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir banned the website in response to a complaint by the satellite television provider Digiturk, which owns the broadcast rights to Turkish Super League games. Matches broadcast on Digiturk's Lig TV channel had been illegally posted by several Blogger users on their blogs.

This is a disproportionate response by the court and undoubtedly has a huge impact on all law-abiding citizens, cyber-rights activist Yaman Akdeniz told the Hu rriyet Daily News & Economic Review, adding that millions of Turkish bloggers and blog readers would be affected by the Diyarbakir court decision.

There are more than 600,000 Turkish bloggers actively using Blogger and some 18 million users from Turkey visited pages hosted by the site last month, Akdeniz said.

If two people plan a criminal activity on the phone, should we ban the use of telephones all over the country? asked Deniz Ergu rel, the secretary-general of the Media Association.

Bloggers and their readers reacted angrily and quickly to the court decision, with nearly 9,000 users of the social-networking website Facebook joining a group called Do not touch my blog in less than two days after the decision was announced. Similar campaigns have also been created on other websites, such as Twitter.

Update: Blogger Blocked

5th March 2011. See  article from

The row over who can broadcast football matches in Turkey has now led to Google's Blogger site being blocked.

Google confirmed the Blogger ban in a statement and said those with worries about piracy should turn to its easy to use takedown systems rather than seek a wholesale shutdown.

The process for making a copyright claim for content uploaded to Blogger is straightforward and efficient, and we encourage all content owners to use it rather than seek a broad ban on access to the service, said a spokesperson.

Update: Turkish internet users not happy about shameful censorship

6th March 2011. See  article from

In the wake of the court ban, many people have launched protests on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook against the ban imposed on Thousands of people became members of the Don't Touch My Blog page opened on Facebook.

People are calling for everyone to condemn Internet bans, boycott Digiturk and change DNS settings as well as opposing the current Internet law that makes such bans possible.

A statement released by bloggers at said: Digiturk, Google and the Republic of Turkey should be sensitive about the censoring shame from now on, all the anti-censor Internet users should support this movement, and all members of the press should lend their support to freedom of expression.

Tansel Parlak, an activist from the Young Civilians, a nongovernmental organization famous for its use of sarcasm in its protests, said the bans imposed on the Internet in Turkey have gone beyond being tragic-comic and become stupid. It is like cutting all the trees in a forest when you just need a few of them, he said.

Parlak also criticized Digiturk for triggering such a ban and taking a side against bloggers. He said the company's move has prompted many Digiturk subscribers to boycott the company due to the bans imposed on their blogs, which goes against the company's interests in the end. Parlak suggested loopholes in the current legislation that make such bans possible should be eliminated, and legal amendments should immediately be made to prevent further bans on the Internet.

Update: Blogger Restored

18th March 2011. See  article from

Access to Google's blogging platform Blogger was banned two weeks ago by a local court in Diyarbakir upon a complaint by Digiturk.

New evidence showing that Google had taken action against copyright violators led a prosecutor's office in Southeast Turkey to decide Monday to lift the ban on Blogger.

Cyber-rights activist Yaman Akdeniz said: The prosecutor's office in the Southeast province of Diyarbak?r -- home of the court that issued the ban -- decided to lift the ban after the expert opinion found that the accounts linked to the IP addresses on which Digiturk had filed its complaint had been deactivated by Google.


17th March   

Update: Registering Discontent...

Poland Prime Minister to back down on power to refuse registration to websites with video content
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Poland...In the name of dangerous gambling

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that he wanted a change in a controversial draft law that would censor websites.

Tusk said he would ask the upper house of parliament to scrap sections of the draft law that would require website owners providing audio-visual material to register with the National Broadcasting Council.

Critics said the law amounted to censorship because the council would have the power to turn down websites seeking registration.

The draft law was passed by the lower house of parliament and is now set for the Senate..

Some 10,800 internet have supported a Facebook page with the messgae: Government, leave the internet alone.


16th March   

Update: Why is MySpace TurkeysSpace?...

Turkey's overwide blocking of websites to be investigated by the European Court of Human Rights
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

A European court has asked Turkish authorities to explain their use of the country's law to ban websites, responding to applications by two complainants who say the bans violate their right to freedom of expression.

Users of different websites are being punished because others infringe legal provisions, said complainant Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber-rights activist and a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University. He applied to the European Court of Human Rights on April 6, arguing that the Turkish government's ban on the website violated his rights.

The decision to consider the case is a landmark one, Akdeniz said, explaining that it was the first time the court had taken up a complaint related to Internet bans.

The court's final decision will set an important precedent for all Council of Europe member countries, Akdeniz told the Hu rriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

Responding to the applications by Akdeniz and another Turkish complainant, the European court issued a request last month to Turkish authorities, asking them to answer by June 9, three questions of a general nature about the use of Turkish law to ban certain websites. The court asked Turkish authorities for explanations regarding the application of legal provisions to ban websites, Akdeniz told the Daily News.

Fellow complainant Ahmet Yıldırım, a doctoral student at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, applied to the European court Jan. 12, 2010, saying his personal website on Google Sites, which he used to publish his academic work, had been banned by Turkey.


14th March   

A Banquet For Seaweed...

Gaza bans books for immoral content and newspapers for opposing Hamas
Link Here

Hamas police recently confiscated copies of novels from bookstores on the basis of their allegedly immoral content, and Hamas officials bar newspapers from being brought into the Gaza Strip that support the rival Fatah movement, which leads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

At a time when people around the Middle East demand more freedom, Hamas has decided to restrict the freedom of Gaza residents to choose what they read, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch: Hamas authorities should stop banning books and newspapers now.

Human Rights Watch has also criticized bans by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against pro-Hamas publications in the West Bank, as well as other violations against journalists by its security services.

Dr. Talaat al-Safadi, the owner of the Ibn Khaldun bookstore, told Human Rights Watch that two police officers in street clothes and another in uniform came to his bookstore and confiscated seven copies of A Banquet for Seaweed , a novel by Haidar Haidar, and one copy of Chicago , a novel by Alaa' al-Aswany.

Members of the General Investigation Bureau also confiscated copies of Chicago and A Banquet for Seaweed from the al-Shurouq bookstore in Gaza City, and Internal Security Service officers ordered employees at the Samir Mansour bookstore, near Gaza City's Islamic University, not to sell any copies of the novels.

Hamas security officers also searched for copies of a novel titled Forbidden Pleasure but did not locate any, the rights group reported. The police officers claimed the novels violated Sharia, or Islamic law, bookstore employees said.

Human Rights Watch also urged Hamas authorities to lift an ongoing ban on importing into Gaza three newspapers printed in the West Bank - Al-Ayyam, Al-Quds , and Al-Hayat al-Jadida . Israel had previously barred the newspapers from being taken into Gaza but had lifted the restriction in June 2010 as part of an announced easing of its closure of Gaza's borders. Hamas then barred their entry. A Hamas spokesperson acknowledged that the newspaper bans had been imposed without any basis in Palestinian law.

The Hamas government press office spokesman, Dr. Hassan Abu Hasheesh, told Human Rights Watch that Hamas authorities had long objected to Al-Ayyam because of the paper's harsh criticisms of Hamas, including its use of terms like collaborators to describe Hamas. Abu Hasheesh said that Hamas authorities had corresponded with the editors in 2007 before banning Al-Ayyam in February 2008 for three months because it had published a caricature of the Palestinian parliament.


8th March   

Updated: No to Censorship!...

Jordan journalists protest against government censorship
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Around 600 Jordanian journalists demonstrated on Monday in the capital to demand an independent and free media, rejecting government censorship.

No to censorship! Our freedom is protected despite government domination. Security services have tied our hands, they chanted outside the government-owned Al-Rai Arabic-language newspaper.

Artists, MPs and also Information Minister Taher Adwan joined the demonstrators.


4th March   

Offsite: Marking Music Freedom Day...

The musicians are taking incredible risks
Link Here

On the Music Freedom Day of 2011, Mark LeVine reminds us that we all owe it to the artists who are risking so much by taking the lead, to stand behind them and ensure that if they are silenced, we will raise our voices as loudly as did they to win their freedom.

The Ancient Israelites had their trumpets and harps. The French Revolutionaries had their republican hymns. The American civil rights and anti-war movement had Dylan, Baez and Hendrix.

And now, Egypt has Ramy Essam.

Essam, a 26-year old singer from the Nile Delta town of Mansoura, was not well-known before the Revolution, but he is one of Egypt's rising stars today.

...Read the full article


2nd March   

Update: Protesting the Censorship of Protests...

Yemen continues to attempt to suppress news about anti-government protests
Link Here
Full story: News Censorship in Yemen...Yemen news media and southern unrest

For the fifth time, Al-Masdar online, an independent local news website, was blocked by the government last Saturday , according to editor Yaser Al-Arami.

Al-Arami told the Yemen Times that the website was blocked because of its news about recent developments in Aden, Sana'a and other governorates.

Al-Arami revealed that the National Security Bureau has a department specifically tasked with monitoring Yemeni news websites.

Similarly, Al-Jazeera Arabic TV channel reported on Saturday that the Yemeni government requested that two correspondents leave the country immediately.

The channel explained that, Yemen's Deputy Minister of Information told the director of the channel office in Sana'a, Saeed Thabet, to ban the two journalists from reporting on the current protests in Yemen. He also asked them to leave the country entirely. Al-Jazeera added that this is the second time that the Yemeni Government has attempted to ban these two journalists from covering anti-government protests that are taking place in several Yemeni cities.

Jamal An'am, chairman of the freedoms' committee at the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate told the Yemen Times that Since the anti-government protests broke out in the country, the Yemeni government launched a war against journalists in an attempt to falsify information and history the reality of what is going on. We are worried that the regime is preparing to oppress both protesters and journalists .


1st March   

Freedom of Expression and Criticism...

European Parliament criticises Turkey over the lack of press freedom
Link Here

The European Parliament in a draft resolution has called on the Turkish government to uphold the principles of press freedom and condemned the violent police crackdown on student demonstrations at Ankara University in December.

The European Parliament is concerned about the deterioration of freedom of the press, some acts of censorship and the growing self-censorship within the Turkish media, including on the Internet, said the draft resolution, written by the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The draft evaluated Turkey's 2010 progress report and made recommendations for this year's upcoming report. It is expected to be adopted in the European Parliament within the next two weeks.

Though the resolution welcomes a number of the government's symbolic and goodwill gestures, as well as a number of concrete steps, in the areas of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, protection of minorities and cultural rights, it said systematic improvements are needed to fully recognize the rights of minorities.

The text also calls for a new media law in Turkey in order to achieve full freedom of the press, saying such as law must address issues of independence, ownership and administrative control.

The text welcomes Turkey's new radio and TV laws, drawing attention to the increase in the legal percentage of Turkish media companies that foreign entities are allowed to own. It expresses concern, however, at the fact that broadcasting can be stopped on grounds of national security without the use of a court order or ruling by a judge.

In the resolution, the European Parliament says it notes with concern the practice of bringing criminal prosecutions against journalists communicating evidence of human-rights violations and other issues in the public interest, especially over articles about breaching the confidentiality of a criminal investigation and attempting to influence the judiciary.

It considers the criminalization of opinions as a key obstacle to the protection of human rights in Turkey and deplores disproportioned restrictions to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, the draft says.


28th February   

Treated as Adults...

Egyptian film makers call for age rating to replace the current system of censorship cuts
Link Here

531 Egyptians from the country's cinema industry are calling for the cancellation of censorship imposed on films. The group includes actors, producers and filmmakers.

They released a statement calling for the dismantling of the institution that aims at preserving public morality, order and interests of the state.

The world has been changing, but Egypt stood still for a long time, as the sword of censorship was on every neck that wanted to work legitimately in the industry, read the statement.

The statement called for the immediate halting of censorship cuts and asked to wait until the widely anticipated elections to deploy the age-rating system used in most countries.

Egypt's only censorship rating system is declaring a film for adults only, meaning not for people under 21-years-old. Originally it demanded that filmgoers show some form of identification to see such a film but this has not been followed in recent times.

Most American films that are shown in the country are cut. The censorship of foreign films includes nudity, however brief and any sexual scenes including kissing. The censorship committee is known to leave bloody and gory scenes in films.


16th February   

Update: Blocked in Bahrain...

More internet censorship correlating to Middle East unrest
Link Here

In the midst of protests in Bahrain's capital of Manama that resulted in over 200 arrests and at least one death, evidence suggests that the government has clamped down on the Web, blocking access to specific YouTube pages and videos as well as, possibly, video live-streaming site

In particular the blocked video appears to show police firing at unarmed protesters:


12th February   

Update: With an Eye on Egypt...

Iran jams BBC Persia
Link Here

  BBC Persia has been working with the BBC's Arabic TV service to broadcast rolling news from Egypt, and the broadcaster news coverage of events in Egypt.

This has prompted Iran to jam the channel since Thursday.

Many Iranian viewers claimed to have been watching events unfold in Cairo and elsewhere in the region extremely closely, the corporation said, and BBC Persian has vowed to continue its broadcasts to Iran and its coverage of the turmoil in Egypt.

Perhaps the Iranian authorities have something to fear. On Friday hundreds of thousands of Iranians chanted slogans supporting the Arab uprisings, while denouncing the United States, as they marched to mark the anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Egyptians, Tunisians, your uprisings are just and we are with you, the crowds chanted.


11th February

 Offsite: Hammering in the Wedge in the Turkey...

Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people
Reports from Turkey about website blocking creep

See article from


7th February   

Recipe for Intolerance...

Iran TV bans cookery shows featuring foreign food
Link Here

Iran has banned TV cooking shows featuring foreign food.

The prohibition was announced by Ali Darabi, the deputy head of Iran's state broadcasting company.

The ban is seen as a part of a nationalism campaign, perhaps reacting to increasingly popular foreign or American culture being imported into Iran.


4th February   

Update: Mob Censorship...

Foreign journalists find themselves hounded by mobs
Link Here
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

Dozens of foreign journalists were arrested, attacked and beaten as the Egyptian government and its supporters embarked on what the US state department called a concerted campaign to intimidate the international media.

Human rights workers also fell victim to crowd violence, while police raided the offices of two groups in Cairo, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre and the Centre for Economic and Social Rights, and arrested observers. Amnesty International said one of its staff was detained at the law centre, with a Human Rights Watch colleague.

A group of reporters from Daily News Egypt, an independent, English-language paper, were among those targeted. They were set upon by a group of passers-by in Dokki, west of the Nile, that quickly swelled into a 50-strong crowd after they ventured out of their offices to investigate a story about rising petrol prices.

It was terrifying, said Amira Ahmed, the publication's business editor. They were chanting: 'We've found the foreigners, don't let them go,' and calling us traitors and spies.  Like many who were caught up in similar incidents today, Ahmed said the most chilling part of the encounter was the mob mentality that took hold: t he people who were showing up had no idea why we were the targets. They just took up the cry of 'foreigners' and 'journalists' and joined in. There was no leader we could appeal to for reason.

The Egyptian interior ministry arrested more than 20 foreign journalists in Cairo, including the Washington Post's bureau chief and a photographer. Al-Jazeera said three of its journalists were detained.

On the streets, it was impossible to interview protesters without a crowd gathering, shouting accusations and jabbing fingers. The antipathy to the media appeared to extend to both opponents and supporters of the regime.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described the systematic targeting of journalists in Egypt as unacceptable, and called for those detained to be freed. The leaders of France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain said in a joint statement that the attacks against journalists are completely unacceptable .


3rd February   

Update: Journalists Attacked...

Egypt restores the internet but only after taking steps to ensure that reporters are properly censored
Link Here
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak have begun violently attacking journalists reporting on the streets of Cairo today, a shift in tactics from recent media censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. CPJ calls on the Egyptian military to provide protection for journalists.

The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. The government has resorted to blanket censorship, intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs. The situation is frightening not only because our colleagues are suffering abuse but because when the press is kept from reporting, we lose an independent source of crucial information.

Internet Restored

See  article from

Internet access in Egypt appears to have returned to normal, according to firms measuring traffic levels in the country.

Facebook and Twitter are now available and the four major Egyptian internet service providers are back in business.


1st February   

Update: Iranians Green with Envy?...

Authorities fear that news from Egypt may spark popular uprising in Iran
Link Here
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

According to Reuters, many online news sources including Reuters itself and Yahoo News are newly blocked in Iran.

Harder news stories from foreign outlets have been replaced by government-approved suggestions.

With protests in Egypt gaining momentum, Iran is hedging its bets by limiting the influx of breaking news out of its Middle Eastern neighbor.

In Iran, Political unrest remains from when the country exploded into social media-fuelled 'Green' protests following the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June.


1st February   

Updated: Extreme Censorship...

Iran inflicts death sentence on two porn site administrators
Link Here
Full story: Internet Death Sentence...Iran goes extreme over website censorship

Iranian courts have sentenced two people to death for running porn sites, prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said, quoted on the Islamic republic's official IRNA news agency.

Dolatabadi said that the two unnamed administrators of porn sites have been sentenced to death in two different courts and the verdicts have been sent to the supreme court for confirmation.

Update: Tortured

8th February 2011. See  article from

A 35-year-old Iranian web programmer is facing imminent execution in connection with developing and promoting porn websites, charges that his family insist are trumped up.

Saeed Malekpour, a permanent resident of Canada who was arrested in October 2008 after his arrival in Tehran, is convicted of designing and moderating adult content websites, acting against the national security, insulting and desecrating the principles of Islam, and agitating the public mind.

Speaking from Toronto, Malekpour's wife, Fatemeh Eftekhari, said her husband has been informed of the verdict and has been transferred to solitary confinement for the sentence to be administered if the supreme court sanctions it. She says her husband was a web programmer who had written photo uploading software that was used in a porn website without his knowledge.

Malekpour, who has been kept in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for the past two years, was arrested by plainclothes officers and was initially kept in solitary confinement for almost a year without access to legal representation.

A year after his arrest Malekpour was put on state television to confess. He later retracted the confessions in a letter sent from inside prison in which he said they were taken under duress.

A large portion of my confession was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to myself and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated, he writes in the letter.

Once in October 2008 the interrogators stripped me while I was blindfolded and threatened to rape me with a bottle of water. He went on to say: While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck. Such mistreatment was aimed at forcing me to write what the interrogators were dictating, and to compel me to play a role in front of the camera based on their scenarios.

Malekpour's sentence has prompted reactions from human rights activists and organisations who have launched a campaign to save his life. Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian foreign affairs minister, has also expressed concerns over his sentence.


31st January   

Update: Censorship to Micro-Effect...

Egypt block Twitter in an attempt to keep the numbers of protestors down
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites

Egypt has just upped its war on the Internet, and cut access to mobile phone communications, in areas where thousands of protesters gathered for a Day of Revolution. The aim seemed to be an attempt to control the flood of protesters and strangle the movement.

Demonstrations sprung across the country, with calls for the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, corruption, economic failings as well as other grievances. Word of the protests and gathering points had been announced on social networking sites, including microblogging site, Twitter, which has been blocked by the authorities.

Such censorship has sparked the anger of activists, especially since it is the first time in Egypt's history that such heavy-handedness is used to silence people online. The move is a stark reminder of the iron fist with which ousted Tunisian strongman Zeine El Abidine Ben Ali clamped down on the Internet, in neighbouring Tunisia, whose uprising has inspired millions of Arabs.

Update: Internet Blocked

28th January 2011. See  article from

It is reported that Egypt is now under an Internet and SMS blackout. The governments appears under siege after a series of major protests against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.

Sebone, a major Egyptian service provider based in Italy, is reporting that no Internet traffic is entering or exiting the country. Reporters and citizens on-the-ground are also reporting that they are experiencing an Internet and SMS outage.

Egypt has been enveloped in unrest over the presidency of Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981. The protests have been partly inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia that forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali out of power after 23 years. Facebook, Twitter and social media were key communication tools used by protesters to organize rallies.

Update: Al-Jazeera Banned

31st January 2011. See  article from

Nilesat, the Egyptian state satellite company has stopped transmitting the signal of Al-Jazeera's primary Arabic language channel.

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the actions of Egyptian authorities to disrupt media coverage by Al-Jazeera and calls on them to reverse the decision immediately.

Both Al-Jazeera and Al-Jazeera English continued to report today on Egypt from other locations. CPJ research shows that viewers outside Egypt can now view the network's Arabic channel only on the Hotbird satellite or other satellites not controlled by Egyptian authorities.

But at least two individuals in Egypt who spoke to the channel's anchor on air reported that they could not view the channel even on non-state satellites, an indication that authorities may be jamming those transmissions.

Al-Jazeera English's broadcast remained on Nilesat.


28th January   

Snowy Bosom Covered in Swallows...

Poetry book banned in Iraqi Kurdistan
Link Here

The latest poetry collection of a well-known Kurdish poet has been banned in Iraqi Kurdistan, after mullahs criticized it for disparaging God.

The book, by Qubad Jalil-Zada, is entitled Stiany Befir Pira Rishole, which Rudaw has translated as Snowy Bosom Covered in Swallows. The author is now urging Kurdistan's president to free his book from imprisonment.

A thousand copies of the book were printed. However, a sentence in one of the poems, God is resting, angered several mullahs in the Kurdish capital, Erbil, and they have harshly criticized the collection in their Friday sermons.

The criticism of the Mullahs, one of whom is a lawmaker, put pressure on authorities in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), who have now banned the book from distribution. Consequently, all of the printed copies have been returned to the publishers.


24th January   

Plunging Censorship Lines...

Iranian newspapers retouch picture of visiting EU dignitary
Link Here

The shirt of EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton at her Istanbul meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, was apparently too revealing in the eyes of Iranian officials and official media.

Some state-controlled newspapers decided to redesign her top and make it more Islamic.

See the various retouched Iranian newspapers


19th January   

Promoting Vulgarity and Nihilism...

Iranian version of the Daily Mail gets 1890 Ibsen play banned
Link Here

Police descended on a Tehran theater earlier this week and halted performances of the play Hedda Gabler by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen after an Iranian news agency blasted the classic drama in a review.

Ibsen's 1890 drama follows the complex relationships among the newly married Hedda, her husband and a third man. Some critics consider Hedda's character to be one of the best dramatic roles in theater.

All artistic activities in Iran are controlled and regulated by the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, which regulates moral and religious standard, and the Iranian version of Hedda Gabler had apparently passed vetting procedures and censors after its adaption from the original. For example, one of the play's seven characters is a recovered alcoholic, but in the Iranian production there is no mention of alcoholism and the male and female characters were careful to not get too close to each other on stage.

But the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency scorned the play in a review accusing it of promoting vulgarity and nihilism. Then the clampdown was imminent.

Since Jan. 5, the Hedda Gabler play has been on stage in the City Theater center to promote normalization of nihilism, licentiousness and vulgarism, which are the main points of the play, said the review: This play ... has nothing to do with national and Islamic precepts and is based on western nihilistic philosophy.

The review was accompanied by a series of photos of the production which, among other things, appear to depict a man and woman about to kiss. But critics have claimed, in a bid to upset religious conservatives, that the news agency digitally manipulated the photos so that it would appear as if the the actors and actresses were closer to each other on stage than they actually were.


16th January   

Not So Magnificent Censorship...

Turkey's TV censor whinges at TV depiction of sultan ruling 500 years ago
Link Here

Turkey's television censor has given an official warning to a private channel after thousands complained that it was portraying the country's Ottoman-era sultans as drinkers and womanizers.

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) said in a statement that Show TV had failed to respect the privacy of sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566.

The agency said the channel should publicly apologize for having violated the privacy of a historical person in its program Magnificent Century , a fictional portrayal of the sultan's life and his royal court at the height of Ottoman rule.

The agency's head, Davut Dursun, said 75,000 people had complained to the RTUK over its portrayal of Ottoman rulers drinking alcohol and chasing after women.


15th January   

Snitch Line...

Turkey reports on facility enabling people to report websites to block
Link Here

The Telecommunications Directorate (TI.B) has established a website for people to report websites ofr supposedly illegal content. TI.B launched in November 2007.

TİB President Fethi Şimşek said they have received more than 220,000 complaints through the website thus far. At least 200 complaints are submitted to the website every day, he said.

He added that most complaints about website contents submitted to Turkey's internet supervisory body concern obscenity,.

Complaints can be submitted if they follow within the guidelines of the articles specified in law No. 5651, which are encouragement of suicide, sexual abuse of children, facilitation of drug use, providing unhealthy materials, obscenity, prostitution, gambling and insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk -- the founder of the Turkish Republic


15th January   

Criticism Not Allowed...

Kuwait bans 2 newspapers and satellite channel
Link Here

The Kuwaiti government has closed down two newspapers, Al-Mustaqbal, alDar, and the satellite channel Mubasher.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights denounced the closures on fabricated accusations of unspecified irregularities .

The group said that the bans were punishments because the outlets were carrying material critical of the country's political situation: Restrictions on the media and press freedom by the Kuwaiti government are on the rise.


12th January   

Fair Game...

Egyptian film censor wound up by the presence of an Israeli actress on the cast list
Link Here

Doug Liman's Fair Game – about the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame by the George W. Bush Administration – is earning Oscar buzz for stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

But Israeli actress Liraz Charhi also stands out for her pivotal, heartbreaking turn as Zahraa, an Iraqi expatriate whose fate devastates the tough ex-spy Plame.

However the presence of Liraz Charhi is causing a bit of censor hassle in Egypt.

Egyptian censors have delayed the screening of Fair Game for at least a week while the consider their stance.

Sayyed Khattab, head of Egypt's censorship board, said that he liked the movie but feared the presence of an Israeli actress.


6th January   

Black Penned...

Dubai bans new movies Black Swan and Love and Other Drugs
Link Here

The Dubai film censor has confirmed that Darren Aronofsky's latest movie Black Swan will not be shown in the emirate due to its subject matter.

Movies have to pass through the Censorship Department for approval, editing or banning before they are released in theatres, and Mohammad Naser, the cinema censor said: When we find that the amount of editing required takes a big part of the movie, we conclude that there is no point in releasing it.

Naser added that Love and Other Drugs would also not be making it to cinemas: Both these movies have been banned because of excessive sexual content, he said, adding that in one of the two films the viewer would have been left with 25% of the film had it been released after editing.

Daniela Yordanova of 20th Century Fox for the Middle East said that both films will be released in other Middle Eastern markets such as Lebanon.

Black Swan has been passed 15 uncut by the BBFC noting: Contains strong sex, language and bloody images.

Love and Other Drugs has also been passed 15 uncut by the BBFC noting: Contains strong sex, sex references and language


4th January   

Blog Control...

Saudi to censor websites via oppressive licensing requirements
Link Here

Saudi Arabia will censor the internet from next month via oppressive licensing restrictions. This will apply to all blogs, forums, news sites, personal websites, electronic archives, chat rooms and online ads produced in Saudi.

New regulations were approved by Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Mohee Al-Dien Khoga, the Minister of Culture and Censorship, which will require licences for the operation of an e-publishing site within the country when the laws come into effect in a month's time,

Anyone who writes on a blog, online newspaper, or similar form of electronic publishing will be required to meet the following obligations:

  • they must be a Saudi national,
  • over 20 years old,
  • hold a high school or higher qualification,
  • be of good conduct and behaviour, and
  • hold an appropriate licence given by the Ministry.

All licence holders must publicly display their licence information on their website. The licence will last for three years before renewal is required.

Failure to comply with the new regulations can result in a number of penalties. The user will be ordered to remove unapproved content. There will also be fines and compensation payments. Websites can be partially or fully blocked, for either a period of time up to two months or indefinitely.

Some established news sites are welcoming the restrictions, seeing it as a measure against competition and IP infringement. Fahad al-Harithi, an editor-chief from al-Wi'am newspaper said that he was happy for the new regulation to take place as it will protect the newspapers' intellectual rights.


2nd January   

Press TV Pressure...

Iranian news channel Press TV claims that it is being censored by Britain
Link Here

The head of an Iran Broadcasting organization has claimed that Britain is censoring Press TV by freezing their bank accounts.

Banks cannot block the accounts of the media which operate within the regulations of the host country without a reason, head of the IRIB World Service Mohammad Sarafraz said.

Sarafraz who also heads Press TV news channel said Press TV Ltd. in London is a company, which is registered according to Britain's law and operates within that framework. He said the London-based Press TV Ltd. is not directly affiliated with Press TV news channel based in the Iranian capital of Tehran.

Sarafraz added that British bank managers have never issued an official response as to why they have blocked the accounts only suggesting that they have been under pressure by those in the positions of authority .

British officials are also said to have tried to block Press TV from broadcasting through pressuring satellite operators especially French companies.

Meanwhile whistle blower website WikiLeaks has recently released documents from secret U.S. Department of State cables which show Britain Foreign Office told the U.S. embassy in London back in February that it is exploring ways to limit the operations of… Press TV . The disclosures, according to Sarafraz, seemed to be connected to the bank accounts closures by the British government.

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