Attempts to censor blogs “futile and unacceptable”

January 5, 2010
By

Kuwaiti bloggers have criticised government plans to censor blogs and said any such attempts were unacceptable and futile.

Their position comes at a time when authorities are considering amending the country’s media law to allow for the “close monitoring” of online sites.

“It will be very difficult for the government to censor or block blogs because most of the servers that contain them are located outside Kuwait,” Abdul Aziz Al Ateeqi, one of Kuwait’s well-known bloggers, was quoted as saying by Kuwait Times.

“They do not fall under the jurisdiction of Kuwaiti law. And even if there is determination to block them, people can still access them via proxies. Governments cannot stop that and cannot identify those who access them,” Al Ateeqi said.

“There is a huge misunderstanding among Kuwaitis in general about what blogs really are. Blogs are a micro prototype of Kuwaiti society. They are like diwaniyas, places where people gather to discuss issues.

“People use them to speak their minds out and if someone is upset by a Member of Parliament he will write his feelings [on] his blog. These views and feelings are diverse and are about different matters. Political blogs represent less than 15 per cent of Kuwait’s blogosphere,” Al Ateeqi said.

Kuwait authorities last month said that they would amend the media law after a controversial programme on Al Sour Television derided tribesmen and claimed that they broke the law by holding dual citizenship. This sparked furore and disgruntled MPs demanded that several ministers be grilled for allowing the station to broadcast.

The government took the station off air, detained its owner for some days and pledged to amend laws governing the media to ensure that national cohesion was not eroded by controversial programmes or statements.

However, Kuwaiti bloggers such as Mohammad Al Yousuf and Amiri Al Mutairi accused the information minister of using the confusion caused by the broadcast to impose restrictions on bloggers.

“The censorship law is more laughable than it is scary because of the motive and process to monitor blogs. How do they want to conduct this censorship? They physically cannot do it,” Al Yousuf said.

Al Mutairi condemned the double standards exhibited by some MPs.

“I think that, unfortunately, a large group of MPs support the media when it speaks favourably about them, but attack it when it criticises them,” he said.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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