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Authorities block website in record time following launch

(ANHRI/IFEX) - On 27 April 2010, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said that the Saudi government should be proud to have seized the title "Prime Arabic Internet Enemy" from Tunisia. Two days ago, Saudi authorities blocked The Egyptian Association for Change site – , only 15 hours after it had been launched, breaking the record set earlier in 2005 by Tunisia, when Tunisian authorities blocked the Virtual demonstration site – , 18 hours after launch.

While trying to access The Egyptian Association for Change site, launched by Egyptian activists in the United States of America, internet users in Saudi Arabia were surprised to find a blocking message that read "Sorry, the requested site is not available".

ANHRI deeply regrets the increasing frequency of site blocking in Arab countries. It is an unacceptable seizure of views of opponents and critics of those governments and a flagrant violation of their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion and expression and circulation of information especially when the blocking by a government is to appease the government of another state.

ANHRI considers that blocking a site that does not contain any material related to Saudi Arabia or calling for violence or pornography is clear evidence of the hostility of the Saudi autocratic government towards freedom of expression. It is a serious indicator of the severity of disregarding the freedom to use the internet, which has become a fundamental freedom. Freedom to use the internet joins the list of rights and freedoms which Saudi citizens and residents are denied. Those rights and freedoms are wasted by the Saudi government.

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