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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Authorities block access to 21 websites for hosting “pro-terror” content

Egypt blocks 21 websites for hosting pro-terror content and allegedly publishing fake news: The Ismail government has blocked access in Egypt to 21 news websites for publishing fake news and hosting content that security officials described as being “pro-terrorism,” Youm7 reported on Wednesday, citing top security official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The list reportedly includes local news website Mada Masr as well as Huffington Post’s Arabic service (the US site remains accessible), Qatari news network Al Jazeera, Cairo Portal, Egypt Window, Horria Post, and Ikhwan Online and the Ikhwan-affiliated Rassd, as well as Hasm and Hamas’ websites. Al Mal has most listed here and Al Arabiya also picked up the story. Mada Masr put out a statement late last night via Facebook confirming that even though its website had indeed been blocked, “we will continue to publish through existing platforms, as well as our website.” Reuters has the story in English.

The move comes on the heels of Saudi Arabia and the UAE blocking access to several Qatari news websites, including Al Jazeera, as a result of publishing the “fake news,” Bloomberg reports. Qatar, however, claimed that its state news agency had been “hacked after it reported remarks purportedly by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani criticizing aspects of US foreign policy in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The comments were critical of the renewed tensions with Iran, calling it an "Islamic power" and saying Qatar’s relations with Israel were "good" during a military ceremony. Qatar News Agency (QNA) insists its “website has been hacked by an unknown entity. A false statement attributed to His Highness has been published … The statement published has no basis whatsoever, and the competent authorities in the State of Qatar will hold all those (involved) accountable.” The hackers also purportedly “took over the news agency’s Twitter feed and posted alleged quotes from Qatar’s foreign minister alleging a plot against the country by other Arab nations,” the Associated Press reports.

The QNA comments also said Qatar has recalled its ambassadors from Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates over the “plot.”

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