BEIRUT, January 15, 2009 MENASSAT –
Syrian human rights activists and blogger Mohammad Al-Abdallah claims the Syrian authorities have shut down his web blog, ‘Raye7 w mish Raj3‘, “I’m leaving and I’m not coming back.”
Al-Abdallah told MENASSAT that the suspension of his blog marks the first time Syria targets the blog generator WordPress.
Syria has previously blocked blog platforms such as blogspot. In a mass web-crackdown in December 2007, Syria blocked access to more than 100 sites, including the video-sharing YouTube and the email provider hotmail.
Al-Abdallah who receives nearly 500 daily visits on his blog says it has been inaccessible in Syria since January 13. Readers of his blog notified him of the shut down the day after.
“They sent me emails telling me that the blog was inaccessible without going through a proxy server,” Al-Abdallah told MENASSAT.
A photo sent to Al-Abdallah by a reader trying to access his blog in Syria reads ‘The requested URL cannot be retrieved. Access denied.’
Al-Abdallah started his blog around six months ago and uses it as a platform for reporting on human rights abuses, censorship, and political corruption in his home country.
Two years ago, Mohammad Al-Abdallah’s brother Omar was sentenced to five years in prison by the Syrian authorities for criticizing the policies of his national government on an Internet forum.
In December 2008, Mohammad’s father Ali Abdallah was arrested when he called for political reform in Syria as a member of the ‘Damascus Declaration,’ a Syrian activist group urging ‘democratic and radical change.’ He is still in detention.
Despite the sensitive content on his blog, Al-Abdallah said he found the suspension unexpected since he has not been directly targeting the Syrian authorities in his writing.
Al-Abdallah has created a mirror site for his blog, making it possible for readership in Syria to still access the blog by clicking on the URL.
When asked if blocked web sites are still easy to access inside Syria, Al-Abdallah said, “It can be done easily,” debunking the effectiveness of web censorship by the Syrian authorities.