Syria Blocks Facebook
Posted on November 25, 2007
Syrian users of Facebook said on Friday the authorities had blocked access to the social network Web site as part of a crackdown on political activism on the Internet.Syria may have agreed to attend Tuesday's Middle-East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland but they appear to be very serious about silencing opposing political points of view. Ammar al-Qurabi, head of the National Association for Human Rights, told Reuters that there is even a "Internet political crimes" ward at one of Syria's prison. An article on Human Rights Watch says Syria's approach to Internet access is consistent "with its efforts to suppress all forms of expression deemed critical of how the country is governed. All newspapers and broadcast media are tightly controlled, and hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars, many of them serving long terms for peaceful dissent."
"Facebook helped further civil society in Syria and form civic groups outside government control. This is why it has been banned," women's rights advocate Dania al-Sharif told Reuters.
"They cut off communications between us and the outside world. We are used to this behavior from our government," said Mais al-Sharbaji, who set up a Facebook group for amateur Syrian photographers.
There was no comment form the government, which has intensified a campaign against bloggers, virtual opinion forums and independent media sites in recent months.