Independent Lebanese website Raseef22 joins hundreds of blocked websites in Egypt

Independent Lebanese website Raseef22 has joined the long list of websites to which access is blocked on Egyptian internet service providers after a number of readers cited difficulties accessing the site in Egypt earlier on Thursday, according to a technical expert who spoke to Mada Masr.

A source affiliated with the website told Mada Masr said that the incident was “strange,” but that they had not yet been able to decisively confirm the blocking.

“[Doubts about being blocked] began with inquiries from friends of ours in Egypt who told us they could not access the website. So we contacted a group of friends, some of which told us they could access the website, while others said they couldn’t,” the source told Mada Masr.   

After conducting a number of tests, the technical expert, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, asserted that the website appears to be blocked because it is not accessible through regular internet browsers on Egyptian ISPs, and only works if browsed via VPN services and the Tor Project, both of which provide a secure connection that can circumvent blocking.

Access to almost 500 websites is currently blocked in Egypt, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression. The blocks began with 21 websites in May 2017. At the time, the country’s official state news agency, MENA, quoted a high-level security source saying that access to 21 websites, which had disseminated “content that supports terrorism and extremism and deliberately spreads lies,” had been blocked in Egypt in accord with “relevant legal proceedings.”

Mada Masr was among the blocked websites. No state institution has claimed responsibility for the blocking.

Shortly after news broke in 2017, the Journalists Syndicate filed complaints with the Supreme Media Council, the Telecommunications Ministry and the National Telecom Regulatory Authority on behalf of the blocked websites, and Mada Masr Media filed a lawsuit case before an administrative court. The case, which requests that the identity of the body responsible for administering the block be revealed, is ongoing, with a verdict expected to be issued on September 30.


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