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Sudan: YouTube Blocked

YouTube has been partially blocked for internet users in Sudan for reasons that are still unknown. Some Sudanese in the country report being able to access YouTube without any problems, while others report being sent to a page with the following message:

“Sorry, this page has been blocked by National Telecommunication Corporation.”

Too Huge World, a western aid worker in Sudan took a screen shot of the page and reports this:


In a fatal blow to our already lackluster sources of entertainment, the Sudanese government has blocked access to YouTube, the online video sharing Web site.

Over at The Sudanese Thinker (which is my blog), commenters dropped their thoughts in reaction to my post about YouTube's blocking in Sudan. The comments indicate that the blocking is being implemented by some ISPs and not others.

No Angel on July 26th, 2008 1:03 pm
hey,i wonder how that rumour got started?!
drima i could assure you that youtube is not blocked,im in Sudan,khartoum i read your post typed in youtube.com and surprise surprise ITS WORKING..
so what are you guys going to spread exactly?

Sudan on July 26th, 2008 4:26 pm
Youtube is working fine in Sudan, Drima.

digital on July 26th, 2008 4:44 pm
No Angel, Sudan……
What ISP’s are you on??

Cause on Sudani and Zain mDSL it is currently blocked??

Are you guys are on Sudatel?

Sudan on July 27th, 2008 1:36 pm
Youtube is working on Canar ISP

digital on July 27th, 2008 4:19 pm
Well Canar do have their own cable….

DZA on July 27th, 2008 4:28 pm
yes canar have its own network .. youtube is blocked on NTC networks

At Black Kush‘s blog, a short but good conversation took place about this issue too. It sheds more light on what's going on.

The Sudanese Thinker reports that Youtube has been blocked in Sudan. Just wanna let you know that I still have access to Youtube, through the Canar ISP. Maybe it has not yet been blocked.

Here is a screen shot.

In response to the post, Amjad shared his opinion on the matter, which prompted a reply from Black Kush.

Amjad said…

This only means/proves that Canar ISP is not regulated by the Sudanese National Telecommunication Corporation, which is a shock to me.

The block as reported was from NTC and not specific ISPs. So supposedly all ISPs regulated by NTC have YouTube blocked and they can't do anything about it. But YouTube being working fine on Canar only means that Canar is not regulated by NTC which I still find hard to believe.

Either ways, I think Canar subscribers are lucky, aren't they?

Black Kush said…

I still don't know how this came about, because other sites are blocked by NTC, showing that famous notice.

Canar users are lucky, for now!

From the above, one can safely assume that those in Sudan using Canar as their ISP have no problem accessing YouTube for now, while those using other ISPs experience the blocking.

Facebook group

In line with what's looking increasingly like a trend, Sudanese flocked to Facebook to voice their concerns in a group dedicated to the matter. The group is called Unblock Youtube In Sudan Now” and at the time of writing it has 476 members.

Over at the group, numerous members have commented that people shouldn't get too panicked since YouTube can still be easily accessed via proxy software or sub-domains such as uk.YouTube.com

Speculations on the reasons

The reasons behind this block are still vague.

Initially, some bloggers speculated that YouTube had been blocked because it features some indecent, sexual videos of Sudanese girls, but the videos in question had only few views, and are also circulating by mobile phone.

In a press release on AllAfrica.com, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information say:

YouTube has recently become a key tool for political activists. A number of video clips have been posted with footage of Sudanese security personnel beating and torturing minors, who were arrested and detained following the 10 May armed attack on the capital, Khartoum, by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels. Mass arrests in Khartoum of perceived supporters of the Darfur rebel group followed the attack.

This leaves us with the other possible and more probable reason behind YouTube's blocking in Sudan by the National Telecommunications Corporation.

ZoulcolmX shares his opinion on this.

I think it's just another attempt to suffocate freedom of speech, especially in times like these, with the international court after Omar, they don't want someone with the opposition to [interfere with] the official story about how every Sudanese citizen supports Omar. They don't want us to see the documentaries that have been posted lately about the “ghost houses” created to torture individuals who didn't support the “salvation revolution”, and with the elections coming, they don't want any anti-kizan* campaign, which is something not allowed on local newspapers, and the national TV is on their side 24/7, but YouTube, Facebook, and blogs give a free space for the truth, and this is what THEY fear the most.
This is not a moral issue, it is political. They have always profited from ignorance, and web 2.0 is against ignorance and those fascists really hates it, so I won't be surprised if they blocked Facebook or MySpace next. If they did, we'll have to do more than just creating a group on the web.

… * Kizan is a nickname for the National Islamic Front and the ruling party the National Congress members.

YouTube's blocking in Sudan has captured a good amount of attention which is a good sign indicating that people value the internet. Unfortunately, right now, there are many facts missing but with time, more of them will surface.

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