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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/10/09

The Empire Strikes Back- Internet Censorship in the Middle East

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The development of the web 2.0 is opening up new opportunities for the opposition groups throughout the Middle Eastern autocracies. Recently Facebook and Twitter were an important factor during the uprisings after the controversial Iranian presidential elections. But the regimes in the region are striking back by heavily increasing their censorship of the internet.

During the past few years, the governments realized how substantial the opportunities of the web 2.0 are for gathering and distributing information, for exchanging ideas as well as organising and mobilising social groups. The Arab states became precursors of internet censorship. A paper published by Reporters Without Borders denounces twelve states worldwide as special enemies of the internet. With Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia, five of them are from the Middle East and North African region.

A rich toolbox of censorship and intimidation

In order to limit the mobility of internet activists, the authorities came up with various tools. Special laws and decrees prohibit information that is considered to be against either the Islam (Kuwait), national interests (Kuwait, Syria) or the respective head of state (Tunisia).

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Jan Kuenzl Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jan Kuenzl is a freelance analyst and writer based in Berlin/Germany. He works on International Relations, Security Policy and the Middle East.
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