Syria lifts ban on Facebook, You Tube, Wikipedia, Blogspot, etc

First thing I do in the morning, before everything else, it`s to switch Twitter on. My Twitter feed always brings surprises. And this morning, one of the tweeps wrote:  “is blogspot.com unblocked in #Syria now?“. I immediately went to the blog hosting service website and checked: it was available! I have never ever accessed this before from Syria as it has been blocked for years. Rumours were growing on the social networks, but I had to leave for a long day of work out and with no  Internet connection.

Mid-afternoon, a TV producer, almost by chance, mentioned “..they lifted the ban on Facebook today!“. Couldn`t believe this, but first thing  I did when I went back home was checking and, incredible, You Tube is un-blocked, as many other websites including the Syrian human rights information link.

Well, I still have issues opening Facebook and the funny thing is that, while trying to open Global Voices` article “Facebook and You Tube unblocked among others” I got a scary “access denied!”. Global Voices` website has been always accessible in Syria and it is still openly accessible, it seems that just this article has been blocked, maybe because it contains some URL related to Facebook or cause the de-blocking work has not been carried on properly yet (the responsible guy might have been out for dinner or sleeping,  as @basselsafadi joked).

If you think that blocking an article that announces the de-blocking process of a ban doesn`t make sense, well then you don`t know Syria and its fascinating inclination towards creativity (and contradiction) when it comes to these issues.

So it really looks like an opening up. Today some tweeps elaborated that this might be the result of the Tunisian “wave” indirect reform pressure on other governments, others thought that this was due to the  predominance  of  anti-“Syrian angry day” groups  on Facebook (which gives an excuse not to officially block the social network any more).Facebook and many other websites have been blocked in the country for many years now but have always been widely available through proxies and widely tolerated even in public Internet cafes.

To find an answer  we should go back to January 31st, when the Wall Street Journal released an interesting interview with  Syrian President Al Assad.

The title speaks for itself: “Time for reform“.In the interview, the President says:

“Actually, societies during the last three decades, especially since the eighties have become more closed due to an increase in close-mindedness that led to extremism. This current will lead to repercussions of less creativity, less development, and less openness. You cannot reform your society or institution without opening your mind. So the core issue is how to open the mind, the whole society, and this means everybody in society including everyone. I am not talking about the state or average or common people. I am talking about everybody; because when you close your mind as an official you cannot upgrade and vice versa”.

And then:

“Reform could start with some decrees but real reform is about how to open up the society, and how to start dialogue. The problem with the West is that they start with political reform going towards democracy. If you want to go towards democracy, the first thing is to involve the people in decision making, not to make it. It is not my democracy as a person; it is our democracy as a society. So how do you start? You start with creating dialogue. How do you create dialogue? We did not have private media in the past; we did not have internet or private universities, we did not have banks. Everything was controlled by the state. You cannot create the democracy that you are asking about in this way. You have different ways of creating democracy”.

So maybe this is a start. Considering the all-positive vibes going on Twitter today, it should be a good start.

At the same time, the English edition of Baladna newspaper titled against an alleged ban on mobile phones chat services applications. If  confirmed it would imply that those who are responsible might not have listened carefully to  the President`s words or maybe  it`s just a matter of a temporary lack of fine-tuning.

They might just look as if in an apparent contradiction..and nothing is so nicely contradictory as this beautiful country and its people that never lacked creativity.

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Syria lifts ban on Facebook, You Tube, Wikipedia, Blogspot, etc

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