Not just the what, but the why

We’ve seen several cases of unintentionally broad blocking.  In an attempt to block a particular blog, all of wordpress gets blocked. Or, youtube gets blocked as a result of a particular video.  The OpenNet Initiative is reporting on another case of blocking that just might be another one of these cases, or it could be something intentionally blocked.

The ONI reports:

The Web site of the Egyptian Association for Change – U.S. Chapter ( has been inaccessible from Saudi Arabia since it went live last week. The Association, according to its Web site is “a group of Egyptians and Americans, concerned and committed to Egypt’s democratic, political, social, and economical reforms”. The group proclaimed that they have joined the National Assembly for Change, an Egyptian group that supports Mohamed Elbaradei, the Nobel Prize laureate former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is expected to run for the presidency in Egypt…

The site’s domain name ( points to a subdirectory hosted by a Web site run by another Egyptian group called Ahl Alquran

The Web site of Ahl Alquran (Arabic for “People of the Quran”) belongs to an Egyptian religious and political group that promotes the belief that Prophet Mohammed’s sayings (known as Hadith) are not a legitimate source of Islamic law (i.e., the Quran is the sole legitimate source of Islamic teaching). This school has an unorthodox approach to Islam and thus their Web site has indeed been blocked by the Saudi censors for the past few year like many other Web sites that espouse alternative views of Islam. (See ONI latest report on Saudi Arabia for more information on this issue.

At Herdict we collect reports of what is blocked.  In fact, we have collected reports on the Web site of Ahl Alquran in the past.  But as the ONI post points out, sometimes just knowing what is blocked doesn’t tell you why.

About the Author: lmiyakawa

Laura Miyakawa is the Project Manager for Herdict. In this role, she directs the tactics and the long term strategy for the site. Prior to joining the Berkman Center, Laura worked with the Boston Consulting Group, developing strategies for high tech clients up and down the East coast. While at BCG, she had the opportunity to work in outback Australia on a Welfare Reform pilot. Recently, she worked as a commercialization associate at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where she handled all patenting and licensing decisions for the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. Laura holds bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and MIT, respectively.

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