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Censorship Without Borders: A Moroccan Blogger's Experience

naoufel for advox

Naoufel Chaara is a talented Moroccan blogger. His website [Ar] has been recently nominated for the Deutsche Welle's 2010 BOBs international award in the Best Arabic Blog category. Naoufel's usually caustic views on people and power in his country and the Arab world, often pack a strong punch with his pretty sizable readership.

bobs

One would expect that a dissenting voice is mainly threatened by local power's systems of censorship, but Naoufel's surprise was so big when he learned that his blog was actually banned outside of his country's frontiers.

In the following short interview, the blogger explains how he came to know about the ban and if this impacts on his writings.

Can you introduce your blog and the kind of topics you cover?

حسنا ..في مدونتي اكتب عن كل شيء..عن الديمقراطية الغائبة..عن حقوق الانسان التي لم نجدها بعد و عن يوميات الوطن العربي..باختصار عن وجهة نظري في الاحداث التي تقع.

Well, in my blog, I write about everything: about the absence of democracy, about the lost human rights and about the daily life in the Arab world. In short, I blog about my points of view on events.

How did you learn that your website was blocked in some Arab countries?

كنت اتحدث مع الزميلة لينا بن مهني من تونس حول حجب مدونتها، بعدها اخبرتني ان مدونتي محجوبة هناك، في اليوم التالي كنت ادعوا بعض الأصدقاء الى التصويت على مدونتي في جائزة البوبز، حيث تأهلت الى المرحلة النهائية..عندها سأعلم ان المدونة حجبت في السعودية و الامارات.

After a conversation I had with Tunisian colleague Lina Ben Mhenni about the censorship of her blog in Tunisia, she told me that my own blog was blocked there. The next day I was contacting some friends of mine to ask them to vote for my website in the BOBs international blogs Award, when I learned that my blog's access was denied in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

How do you explain the censorship?

في تونس الأمر بديهي، كل تضامن مع نشطاء حقوق الانسان هناك يؤدي الى المنع..السعودية تفعل نفس الامر مع من تعتبرهم أصوات علمانية..الامارات هي علامة الاستفهام و لا أدري لماذا حجبت مدونتي هناك.

In Tunisia the reasons are obvious: any show of solidarity with human rights activists there will inexorably lead to a ban. Saudi Arabia is doing the same thing with voices deemed too secular. A question mark remains for the UAE. I have no idea why my blog was banned there.

What was the reaction of your blog's readers?

الأراء اجتمعت حول أن حجب المدونة في دول تقيد حرية التعبير و توضع دائما في أسفل ترتيب حقوق الانسان هو نيشان للمدونة

Opinions were unanimous: to be banned by countries known for their restrictions on freedom of expression and by their poor human rights records, is a badge of honor for the blog.

Will this ban influence the way you write on your blog?

قطعا لا..أسلوبي و كتاباتي وجدوا قبل المدونة..حجبها هناك لا يعني لي شيئا سوى ضياع قراء محتملين للمدونة

Definitely not. I write today as I used to write even before I started blogging. The ban doesn't mean anything to me apart from the potential loss of readers.

Are there ways to circumvent this censorship?

خبرتي بالأمور التقنية ضحلة للغاية..و لا أدري فعلا ان وجدت طرق .للالتفاف حول هكذا حجب

I have a very limited technical experience and I honestly don't know if there is any efficient way to get around this ban.

Any final thoughs?

فقط شكري لمن راسلوني أو من عبروا لي عن مساندتهم..

I just want to thank all those who showed support for me.

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