Moroccans Cut Off From YouTube

Internet users in Morocco unable to access the video-sharing Web site YouTube since last week expressed fears that the government has stepped up its campaign to restrict independent media. Najib Omrani, a spokesman for state-controlled telecommunications provider Maroc Telecom, which supplies most Internet access in Morocco, blamed the problem on a technical glitch but could not explain why it affected only Google Incorporated's YouTube. Some Internet users were sceptical that a technical problem was to blame and noted that the site went down after users posted videos critical of Morocco's treatment of the people of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco took control of in 1975 after Spain, the colonial power, withdrew.

At his accession to the throne in 1999, Moroccans hoped King Mohamed VI would usher in political and social freedoms absent under his father, the late King Hassan II. But key issues remain off-limits for public discussion, with Moroccan law still forbidding criticism of the monarchy, Islam and Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara. Many bloggers say a recent upsurge of YouTube videos criticizing Morocco's rule in Western Sahara may have spooked government censors. Over the past month Morocco has cracked down on students and activists from the territory, with police injuring and arresting dozens as they broke up pro-independence demonstrations. Protesters have posted dozens of videos of these and earlier clashes on YouTube.

News source: Physorg

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