A UK-based pro-democracy news website covering the Arab world has been blocked by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt.
The countries have given no explanation for the ban on The New Arab (Alaraby.co.uk) and its Arabic language sister title al-Araby al-Jadeed. Readers in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt who try to log on to the site are currently receiving a message saying that it cannot be accessed because it has breached national regulations.
Social media editor of The New Arab, Sofia Petkar, said she has no idea why the site has been blocked but speculated that it may because of its pro-democracy stance. She said there has been no official communications explaining reasons behind the ban.
The site was launched a year ago and claims to have 22 editorial staff in London and 150 in total around the world.
In statement it said: “The blocking of these websites goes against the company’s principles of supporting democracy, human rights and liberty, as well as the notion of press freedom. The New Arab and its sister site provide a platform for the voice of the Middle East and .aim to provoke an exchange of ideas and open discussion in a responsible manner.
“Since launching a year ago, The New Arab and al-Araby al-Jadeed have established themselves at the heart of the Arab news community, and their content has generated monthly audiences in the millions worldwide. Indeed, traffic to these websites has risen exponentially since their launch and particularly in the countries that have blocked these sites.
“The New Arab and al-Araby al-Jadeed has always supported, and will continue to campaign for, press freedom. We will continue to provide independent journalism that upholds our values and beliefs.
“Censorship is the real crime against journalism and will not prevent our content from reaching our readers.”
Readers can get around website bans by using sites such as Hide Me which mask the location of their computer.