Palestinian minister resigns over web censorship (BBC) British Broadcasting Company) 27 April 2012 Last updated at 10:55 GMT)
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The communications minister of the Palestinian Authority has
resigned, claiming it was trying to silence its critics and curb
freedom of expression.
Mashour Abu Daqa said senior officials had ordered several opposition
websites to be blocked over the past six months.
He said the moves were bad for the image of the PA in the modern
Security forces have also recently arrested four journalists and an
activist who had criticised President Mahmoud Abbas and other
The United States state department has expressed its concern.
The BBC´s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Jerusalem says the PA has been
accused of many things by its detractors, including being
undemocratic, ineffectual and corrupt.
But until now it has had a reasonable claim to have allowed freedom
of speech in the West Bank, our correspondent says. Now that too is
On Thursday night, Mr Abu Daqa announced he was stepping down and
revealed that the PA´s attorney general had ordered Palestinian
internet service providers to block access to at least eight websites
in the past six months.
The blocked websites - Amad, Fatah Voice, Firas Press, In Light
Press, Karama Press, Kofia Press, Milad News and Palestine Beituna -
were all highly critical of the leadership of Mr Abbas, and are loyal
to one of his harshest opponents, Mohammed Dahlan, our correspondent
The Fatah movement, which dominates the PA, expelled Mr Dahlan in
June after he accused Mr Abbas of being a weak leader and of allowing
his sons to benefit financially from his rule. Police recently raided
his home in the West Bank.
Mr Dahlan was once the powerful Preventative Security Chief for the
Gaza Strip, but he was widely criticised in 2007 by senior Fatah
officials for losing control of the coastal territory to the rival
Islamist movement, Hamas.
Mr Abu Daqa said the closure of the websites linked to Mr Dahlan
was "bad for the image of the Palestinian Authority in the modern
He also predicted that the policy would ultimately be ineffective
because those behind the websites could simply change their domain
US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said it was concerned
about "uses of technology that would restrict access to information".
"We´ve had these concerns in other parts of the world, and we
wouldn´t want to see the PA going in the direction that some of those
regimes have gone in," she added. (© BBC MMXII 04/27/12)
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