Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Morocco bans Youtube, then unbans it

Why does King Mohammed VI hate these two millionaires? I don't know, but he does. From sometime Sunday to today, Youtube was blocked on Morocco's major internet provider, Maroc Telecom, according to Maghrebism.

Fortunately, access was restored today. Bloggers are claiming victory, and they certainly publicized the blocking. They were helped by Reporters Without Borders and the Associated Press, both of which wrote pieces about the block. Youtube probably got the ax because of its pro-Western Saharan independence videos, some of which are admittedly pretty awesome. Other people cited Islamic revivalist or anti-monarchist sentiments on Youtube as the reason for the ban.

Youtube was joined in Maroc Telecom's Index Librorum Prohibitorum by previous inductees Livejournal and Google Earth. Kudos to Taamarbuuta of Morocco Report for her criticism of those in Morocco who take a "What me worry?" approach to censorship. She also aggregated some of the links I've mentioned here.

The whole affair is odd because only Maroc Telecom customers couldn't reach Youtube. As Netdur explains, the smaller ISPs still let people reach Youtube, suggesting that Maroc Telecom was either anticipating a government ruling or acting on its own.

Speaking of censorship, according to Morocco Report, One Hump is one of the few pro-Western Sahara blogs available in Morocco. I used to think all Blogger accounts had been blocked long ago, but Google Analytics metrics told me otherwise. After the United States, this blog is viewed most often in Morocco, with 114 of the 202 visits coming from Rabat.

Thanks to Morocco Report and commenter Laroussi for simultaneously tipping me off to the Youtube blocking. Orangutans for all people, regardless of nation.


  1. Laroussi5:42 AM

    Glad to hear that the block of YouTube is over.

    About blocked blogs: As far as I know the complete ban of pro-Saharawi sites that was imposed in 2005 has been lifted, but the ban enters into force on and off depending on the development on the ground.

    Maybe someone in the occupied territories could enlighten us more?

  2. Laroussi2:17 PM

    Besides the Saharawi video clips, some people think this video satire over the Moroccan king Mohammed VI could have been a reason for shutting access to YouTube.

    I doubt it, but the video is sort of funny, although insulting. An Arabic version of South Park. ;-)

    The clip mainly says that M VI, his brother Moualy Rachid and the royal advisor André Azoulay are thieves, and in the king's case there are also references to his alleged homosexuality.

  3. There was a ban of youtube even in Thailand which is a constitutional monarchy - so i think its ok if there are bans wherein heads of state are termed in a derogatory manner.

    the differance is that in thailand the thai people by and large were supportive of the ban as a video insulted the king.

    In morocco i am not sure as to how popular king mohammed is. But he has to take measures to control his regime.

  4. Not that this will change your mind, but:

    "A military junta overthrew [Thailand's] elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra on 19 September 2006. The junta abrogated the constitution, dissolved Parliament and the Constitutional Court, detained and later removed several members of the government, declared martial law, and appointed one of the King's Privy Councillors, General Surayud Chulanont, as Prime Minister." (Wikipedia.)

  5. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Hi Will
    It look that you have exams period last weeks…!!!good luck

    I have noticed a new English version of the website of UPES ( in English: a pro-Polisario union of Saharawis journalists and writers ) this website still under construction but it seem very interested particularly for English natives who want to know ”something” about WS from the Saharawis point of view ( when say Saharawis’s mean different than moroccan official point of view )
    You and all here can check the website


  6. Heh, what an enjoyable video of M6. I can see why it struck fear in the Mekhzen's collective heart.

    As for monarchies blocking Youtube, I don't think censorship is hardly ever permissible, and especially not when it concerns one of the most important figures in the state. How can you say you're a free society when criticism of a man who is vital to the country's image is illegal?

    Thanks for the UPES update, Desertman! I knew they were working on something, but I didn't know they had put it up in English. It looks like SADR is finally recognizing that the web is one of its most useful tools for achieving self-determination.

  7. Very interesting and strange situation.
    May be someone deliberately does it for his own purposes?

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