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Iran Watch: Iran Blocks Access to Top Websites

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Guardian: Censorship fears rise as Iran blocks access to top websites

Iran yesterday shut down access to some of the world’s most popular websites. Users were unable to open popular sites including Amazon.com and YouTube following instructions to service providers to filter them.

Similar edicts have been issued against Wikipedia, the internet encyclopaedia, IMDB.com, an online film database, and the New York Times site. Attempts to open the sites are met with a page reading: “The requested page is forbidden.”

Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Mullahs cannot stand the outside criticism of their maniacal government.

But, the New York Times – every friend of America’s enemies?

But, there is a work around.

With some 7.5 million surfers, Iran is believed to have the highest rate of web use in the Middle East after Israel. The net’s popularity has prompted an estimated 100,000 bloggers, many opposed to the Islamic regime. Some blogs are substitutes for Iran’s once-flourishing, but now largely supressed, reformist press.

Last week Mohammed Tourang, head of the information bureau’s cultural committee, warned Iranian websites of stricter rules by announcing steps to stamp out “immoral and illegal” content. He said site owners would be given official reminders to eliminate forbidden material. Special attention would be paid to content judged to be a threat to national unity or insulting to sacred religious texts and symbols. Students and academics say the move limits their ability to conduct research.

The purge mirrors a rising tide of censorship in Iranian publishing which has resulted in the banning of hundreds of books, including western classics. Illegal satellite dishes have also been seized.

Flap’s Blog has not been banned (as of last night) and encourages discourse with Iranians who desire uncensored access to the internet.

What will be next for Iran, book burning?

Michelle Malkin has more.

A new Canadian software tool aims to help people in web-censoring countries like Iran, where this woman was on the internet in a cafe in Tehran in August.


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