Posted by Joshua on Thursday, November 22nd, 2007
Facebook has been blocked in Syria. Some articles are suggesting that the government has taken this step because too many Israelis have been entering into Syria-based groups. I do not believe this.
Facebook has become a virtual civil-society in Syria. Many civic groups sprung up over-night and became popular with thousands. Groups about preserving the old city, getting back the Golan Heights, supporting civil marriage, women's' groups, art associations, and you-name-it. Every day my email includes invitations to join new groups and associations that are being created with the speed of light. They are only limited by the imaginations of hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have been kept from forming such groups in non-virtual life.
Facebook was a phenomenon. Last summer in Damascus, many of my younger professional friends did nothing but talk about Facebook and the groups they were joining. It was extraordinary. Syrians loved it. It was completely democratic and new. Undoubtedly this made it very scary for the authorities. There remain many ways to get around the blackout, but Facebook will never be the same. Most Syrians do not want to fight their government. But they do want to enjoy life and have a degree of liberty.
This cartoon is taken from the Nobles News site in Syria, which says that its site: Shabab lak – a youth site, which has over 56,000 members among Syria's youth, has also been blocked.
Syria Blocks Facebook
Source: Al-Safir, Lebanon, November 19, 2007
In a move angering many, particularly young people, Syrian authorities yesterday blocked the Facebook website.
No government body has explained the meaning of the move, but observers estimate that it was motivated by fear of Israelis infiltrating the Syrian social networks being formed by site members.
Syrians find new friend in Beirut
Facebook ban marks latest in series of restrictions that have driven dissidents to Lebanon
BEIRUT — To the outside world, Lebanon's constantly turbulent political scene can make the country seem like a dangerous place to visit. But to Syrians who have fallen out with the regime of President Bashar Assad, the tiny country next door is a democratic paradise.
With Mr. Assad's regime moving in recent months toward even tighter controls on free speech and dissent – this week it banned access to the popular Facebook social-networking website – a growing number of young Syrian dissidents have settled here in Lebanon, the only Arab country where they feel free to express their opinions and continue their political activism…..
The Perils of Engagement By: Jeff Robbins | The Wall Street Journal
If the Bush administration were truly "engaged," the argument goes, the chances for Middle East peace would be greatly improved. Next week's meeting in Annapolis, Md., between Israel and at least certain of its Arab interlocutors has the look and feel of more of the same.
Bring Syria into the Talks By: Yossi Alpher | International Herald Tribune
Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, is not moderate, at times resembles a Mafia chieftain more than a head of state and threatens war with Israel. But he has not been invited to Annapolis because Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President George W. Bush don't want to talk to him until he cleans up his act and stops assassinating Lebanese politicians and meddling in Iraq.