Entries Tagged 'don’t block the blog!' ↓

Crooks and Liars!

Crooks and Liars has just put up the story of the Turkey block on WordPress. With this, I can officially chill out and go back to the very mundane matters of my own life. This is great: because I have to return to Lahore on Monday, before which I need to get an oil change on my Cultus, and then I will be designing a course on Art & Society for first year college and revamping my History of Ideas course for BNU, where I work. So, all-in-all, I’ll have my hands full soon and I’m glad a high traffic site has taken up some of the slack.

Blue Gal is totally my hero. May she have a thousand sons, if that’s her fancy. If it’s not, may she have a thousand of whatever she most desires. Or any appropriate amount really (I don’t like to go overboard).

Today, the blogosphere is a beautiful thing.

Avatars and Such

All bloggers  Avatar

I hope this is what you meant by avatar, Collin. It should be shrinkable to whatever dimensions. If not, give me a better idea and I’ll see what I can do.

Shop closes Sunday night, ladies and gentlemen!


In the process of all this blockless blogging and saving Turkey from itself (just being facetious, don’t get knickers in a twist), I ran into a reference on a blog called Inkless Paper to The Great Firewall of China, a website that has probably the most interesting and engaging FAQ I’ve ever read. Here’s some of it:


Once again: who is censoring in China?

Censorship is practiced by various interest groups at various levels:
The government, who regulates the internet by means of an extensive arsenal of laws and administrative regulations.
Foreign, i.e. Western, internet providers such as google.cn and yahoo.cn
who argue that if you wish to do business in China, you must obey its rules.
The Chinese commercial internet providers, who also have to adhere to government rules.
The moderators of Chinese chat rooms & discussion forums, who block ‘sensitive’ postings.
The cyber cafes; everyone who wishes to go online in an internet café,
is obliged to register beforehand.

This ‘voluntary compliance’ with existing regulations can have major consequences. According to ‘Reporters Sans Frontières’, in 2003 dissident Jiang Lijun was sentenced to four years imprisonment for ‘undermining the state’. His conviction was based on a draft email found on his Yahoo page. This draft contained proposals for a more democratic China, which, according to the prosecution, could be regarded as taking part in “subversive activities that aim to undermine the authority of the Communist Party”. Yahoo provided the necessary data to find Jiang.

Apparently there has been an initiative called Adopt A Blog that came out of Sinosplice. People outside China would host Chinese blogs and assist in circumventing the firewall. I’ve been trying to get the site for Adopt A Blog but there seems to be nothing there. I don’t know if its because it collapsed, because there’s something wrong with the server it’s on or because (very unlikely) Pakistan has blocked it. Anyone know anything?

I have to say, getting back to the Great Firewall, that I tested by site on it and it shows up blocked, but Google Analytics tells me I’ve had visitors from China on my blog, though not recently. If you check out the FAQ, you’ll find that there are a lot of reasons this could happen and they’re not spread too wide, geographically. So I don’t know. But anyway, it’s absolutely fascinating, so check it out.

Germany & France Banners

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Official Press Release

via DBTB:

The lawyers of Adnan Oktar have accused a Turkish blogger, Edip Yuksel, of running a slander campaign against their client, Adnan Oktar. In this regard upholding their petition in court the Fatih 2nd Civil Court of First Instance, number 2007/195, has ordered the Turkish authorities to block all access to the entire WordPress.com domain in Turkey. Oktar’s lawyers go on to argue with the administrators of the WordPress organization to remove and prohibit any blogs on the site that may contain any reference to Adnan Oktar or his pen name Harun Yahya, or any combination of the four names.

Read the rest.

Italian Banner

Always happy to oblige! Anything else anyone would like? blockital.png

Petition to Unblock WordPress in Turkey

Mideast Youth has set up an online petition to unblock WordPress in Turkey. Please take a moment to read and sign it.

Green and Lebanese Badges

As requested, we’ve got one Lebanese badge and and one badge in the green of Don’t Block the Blog!:




Don’t Block the Blog

Official website lives here now: http://dbtb.org, Don’t Block the Blog set up by Teeth Maestro. Enjoy.

Regurgitation: Pakistan Bans Blogspot

I wrote this article for Chowk on March 5, 2006. Chowk has made its layout even more unreadable than before and, anyway, its more fun if you just read it here. In connection with Don’t Block the Blog, I thought I’d do some cud chewing.

Pakistan Bans Blogspot

You’re not going to believe this.

Or maybe you will. Those of us who have grown up in Pakistan, particularly during the Zia years, may well have a conditioned response to such news of censorship: a sudden jolt of shock, followed immediately by ennui, depression and a desire to move to Guam.

Blog*Spot has been banned in Pakistan.

According to BBCUrdu.com, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has instructed all internet service providers to block twelve websites that have republished the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Among them is one blog on Blog*Spot. In answer to this, all major ISPs (if not all) have blocked the entire domain, blogspot.com, from Pakistan. No one in Pakistan can access any blogs on that domain.

I don’t know what appalls me more: the sheer idiocy of such a blanket ban; the horror that someone thinks they’ve just struck a blow for Islam; or this insidious thought that, in Pakistan, we have no rights, only privileges.

Truly, it’s the role of the Supreme Court I find debilitating. According to the BBC, on March 2, the Supreme Court ordered that all internet content that is insulting and degrading the beliefs of Muslims, and any site publishing the controversial caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, should be blocked from access in Pakistan. Not only that, but it has demanded that the concerned officials explain why such measures are not already in place.

Where do I put my face, as they say.

That the law in Pakistan steps into the social, the domestic and the private with all the aplomb of your stern uncle coming in to give you a right seeing-to, is something we have come to expect. Rape, blasphemy, murder, whatever – the law will explain to you why it can legislate to you on behalf of both man and God.

But I was truly hoping the internet would escape. I was truly hoping that this wasn’t going to be the UAE, where you can’t go on Orkut because it somehow offends morality. I was hoping, in all honestly, that my little world, with my little blog, would remain free and safe, for me. My four friends in Pakistan and six outside would read my blog, we’d agree or argue, and then all go back to the rest of our lives.

This was silly of me. But I wasn’t alone. Noumaan Yaqoob, whose blog was featured on BBCUrdu.com and which seems to have been what alerted the news service of the block in the first place, expressed similar views. He feels that, of all the restrictions on free speech placed in Pakistani law and society, “internet unka torr hai [the internet is their undoing]”. Here’s hoping it’s true.

Meanwhile, through RSS readers such as Bloglines.com, you can still read the articles that are posted on Blog*Spot blogs. In fact, you can actually post to your own blog in the usual manner, by logging into blogger.com, which is a domain that has not been banned. Witness the ridiculousness of that, now.

I don’t expect much of the law. In fact, I don’t expect anything, really, except that which is not good. Censorship has a great history with us. My mother was a journalist in this country for some fifteen years, and worked for The Muslim daily for most of that newspaper’s life. She remembers when Zia came into power and the paper had to go to the censors every evening. She tells me that for a while, whenever a story was censored, The Muslim would run STOP PRESS, and publish the white space. But then, after a while, when nothing looked like changing, reporters stopped reporting and writers stopped writing stories that were likely to get censored. It took the edge off, she said.

What I expect from the law is that it will take the edge off me, or try to. It will reduce all of us citizens to subjects, and in the end, the personality lording over us on a given day will become irrelevant – it will just be the Badshah Salamat of the time. And we will be left to scuttle about, scooping up whatever privilege we can, never assured of any rights.

Because Badshah Salamat isn’t a person. It’s a system. It’s a meena bazaar of power relations and negotiation, where we barter freedom for freedom, service for service, and gouge out a small tract of land in which we can be reasonably secure that we will be who we will be. And all this time, we move through life on the defensive: because we can only be reasonably sure. We can never be certain. We scrape up the privilege, here and there, to speak up, but we have no inalienable right to do so.

The Zia era remains in my mind a period of intense darkness and fear, led by Zia, but painted in the rich shades and nuances of dark by all the other actors – the censors, the police, the intelligence, the editors who gave up printing STOP PRESS, jurists, the lawyers, the ideologues who brought the law so low. The people who tried to take the edge off. And the people who gave up their edge.

Our era, our Enlightened Moderation, has its own set of criminals. The Supreme Court I now list as one of them. The internet service providers of Pakistan are another. Who else goes on the list?

Because we’re Pakistanis and we’re keeping track. Jaza saza, as Faiz Sahb said, sab yahin pe hogi.

Canada Banner

As I said, I’ll take requests. As many as I can, anyway. Some time soon, my internet access will go poof (because I’ll go back to Lahore and work and no-internet house), so use me while ya got me!


Turkey Bans WordPress!

Turkey has banned the domain WordPress.com on the instigation of, believe it or not, one man and his lawyers. The whole story is at the link, or you can find it in parts on Ali Eteraz, who will probably get a lot more traffic than me (meaning that his discussion will probably get more interesting – one of the major players has already commented on the entry).

On 26 February, 2006, Pakistan banned Blogspot because of the Danish cartoon controversy. Both are instigated by religious conflicts. I don’t really know what the Turkish conflict is, but the man who got it banned, Adnan Oktar aka Harun Yahya is accusing his primary rival of publishing slander about him on several websites, some of which are on the WordPress domain.

More information can be found here. (Thank you, Teeth!)

When the Pakistani block happened, some nice folks made banners to put on their blogs. So I decided to return the favour. I’ve made a few, feel free to download and use them. Please don’t link to my image because frankly my bandwidth and whatnot can’t handle it. Take the banner and do what you like with it. If anyone wants to code it so that it can fit in a template, please please do so and then give me the code. I don’t have the chops for it.

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Blogspot Banned

Because of the cartoon controversy, the Pakistan government has apparently banned all websites that show these cartoons. I got this information from bbcurdu.com where there is this news piece and then a discussion thread as well. First I thought it was brainnet, my ISP, that was blocking it because their website is very vocal about the cartoon thing. But then I stayed over at the Hashmis last night and am checking my email from there today, and it still wouldn’t load. So I went on with my morning browse, and lo! Blogspot Blocked.

How to get this and other blogspot blogs anyway: Go to Bloglines and sign up. It’s a news reader service that reads RSS feeds (which I don’t know what they are, but who cares?) and then collects the newest posts from any blog or website that has the RSS option. All blogspot blogs do, so just follow their instructions and it will get updated every time a blogspot user posts their blog.

As for the fact of blocking: I have much to say and I haven’t coherently formed it. Clearly, I’m totally pissed because, damn, I say stuff on my blog and the six people IN Pakistan who read it should be able to do so! But also: this is what I meant when I started the rant on Freedom to Speak, about 7 posts ago. There are things you just can’t say, apparently, and it doesn’t matter what the content is because if there’s even a wiff of something taboo, everything goes out the window. We do it in society, in a sort of social shaming process (“aray, kya baat kar rahi ho, yeh koi karne ki baat hai?”) and we do it in the public sphere, with and without government mandate. I haven’t seen the cartoons and I’m not bothered too, but if I do, my life won’t end. RasulAllah has a lot more dignity than can be tarnished by some dumbass with a felt-tip pan and a bigoted heart. But I cannot, absolutely cannot, abide this kind of UAE-style behaviour. It is un-Islamic, it is un-democratic, and it is heinous.

Do you know how easy it is to access internet porn?