07 December, 2005

A dark and very sorry day

A caution to all UAE bloggers: Sorry Dubai has been blocked by the Proxy. His final entry was a spirited rant against Etisalat, which may be the reason.

It should be noted that the author, Feed Your Head did NOT:

- post nudity or obsene content
- post anything defamatory that wasn't opinion/comment
- criticise any named or unnamed individual
- post any information about evading the proxy

Regardless of whether you agreed or disagreed with his views, this is still a serious blow for free speech and blogging in the same week that senior people at a media conference in the UAE called for the media to be more fearless.

You can probably still leave a comment for Feed Your Head here.

Feed Your Head: best wishes, and we all hope this gets sorted out soon.

NB: Please don't anyone comment anything in anger below that may get this place blocked too. And everyone take extra care for the time being.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates".

So criticizing a telecommunications monopoly is violating which one of these? Religion? Culture? Politics, or morals?

TwinTopaz said...

Can anyone inform them that freedom of speech is first step towards "their" new found love...democracy

Emirati said...

I dont like feed your head nor his blog very much, however he should not have been blocked like this.

I will contact a few friends in Etisalat and ask them what the situation is.

CG said...

why dont we all call in and ask them why it is blocked?
post further comments here lol. I shall go to a phone box to make my call.....safety first.

samuraisam said...

he pissed in the wrong persons pool by the sound of it.

securecomputing has it listed as "personal pages" which would indicate it to be a specific blocking.

although he may have raised some contemporary issues, lets fact it, he posted pictures of idiot drivers who prolly have wasta, and he didn't block out their numberplates.

A Yahya said...

I dont like FYHs blog too much either, but I cant understand why it was blocked. Like anon 11:31 said, it doesnt go against the values of this country.

But please, to everyone else who are contemplating bringing that whole tired 'democracy should be allowed in the middle east with unrestrictive freedom of speech' argument ..please dont. Its boring and cliched.

*coughs 12:27*

Anonymous said...

When you have rants on prostitution and gambling and linking it with DDF!!!, you are definitely going to attract the sentinels!
Ranting against etisalat is very common and allowed too, upto a certain limit (old surfers and IRC chatters will remember much.net).
What got Feed your Head's blog blocked was his comments on the subjects mentioned above and not just his rants on Etisalat.

Anonymous said...

If I try to go to the sorrydubai blog I get "Blogger: 404 - Page not found", "The requested URL was not found on this server...".

Anonymous said...

Oh ****

missed his last entry on Etisalat then !

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
secretdubai said...

I don't think it's safe for FYH or any of us to republish his entire blog post here, at least until we are a little clearer about why it was blocked.

If you want to risk publishing it on your own blogs that's fine, but if this place gets blocked, we use a really vital communication area to try and help fellow bloggers in times like this.

I do have a copy of the post saved for future reference.

Anonymous said...

there must be a reason why etisalat is acting so childish!

e3ashig said...

That website was probably not blocked because of its anti Etisalat ranting. This part of the recent post is more relevant:

"But when you do look at the way things work here, it should come as no suprise that Etisalat has been allowed to pull this crap. There is a heavy and immoral (don't you just love this word) bias towards anything local. Without such kind of bias it is very unlikely they could actually cut it in the free market. Think about it. If not for the localisation policy who would hire one?? If not for the need for sponsors, would anyone of them be making money for free?? Look at companies like Nakheel and Emaar. Look at something as simple as fines and fees. One for locals, one for expats."



This hostility against the endogenous people of UAE is consistent throughout his website and changes to blatent racism indeed in some of his posts. As SecretDubai will remember from a previous correspondence between us, this is the same person who in Thursday, June 16, 2005 posted in his website:

"I had a pretty disturbing experience today. One that reinforces the notion that sand monkeys are the most arrogant and piece of shit drivers in the world."

The Proxy Ban is a controversial issue that should appropriately be the subject of debates online and offline to explore its pros and cons. But I urge everyone who takes part in it not to use this particular example, as it will end up giving this racist Blogger publicity that he does not deserve.

kaya said...

For over a week I have been unable to get to Emaratis blog.
I get the 404
Anyone else?

e3ashig said...

My appologies to SecretDubai for quoting parts of the blocked website. It does feel that people should know this before using the blog in question to argue for/against the proxy. No one wants to advertise for racism - as I hope everyone here would agree.

secretdubai said...

Emirati is also absent, but hopefully temporarily.

Hesham said...

Thats too bad. I think the policy (if there is such a thing) should be revised and looked after by people with actual knowledge of public policy.

Anonymous said...

What a shame. Feed Your Head's postings made us laugh about Dubai's more stressful aspects rather than cry.

It is indeed a very sorry day. He will be missed.

Slagothor said...

e3ashig:

I agree that based upon his postings, FYH appears to be a loudmouthed bigoted a-hole. I'm pretty sure he's the kind of guy I would not enjoy encountering personally (you see and hear plenty of people like him in the bars in Dubai, usually British, always obnoxious - more annoying and unpleasant than the worst Arab.)

The more meaningful point is this: are his words and thoughts so dangerous that nobody in this country should be able to see or hear them?

There is a saying: "sunlight is the best disinfectant". This means that the best way of combatting noxious thought is to give it the fullest, most public hearing. The optimistic idea is that the more people exposed to these ideas, the more they will be rejected, and the more marginalized and obscure the bigots will become.

Brushing ugly beliefs under the carpet will only allow them to fester and grow, like mould. By acting like petty tyrants, Etisalat are only reinforcing FYH's attitudes.

If citizens of this country have confidence in their intellects and psyches, then they would relish the opportunity to take on people like FYH head-on, not use the government to shut him up by force. That is a sign of insecurity and weakness that is misplaced and passe in the UAE, IMO.

I'n an educator of young Emirati men. I believe that most of my students are smart end confident enough to not need protection from ugly thought by the government.

Jassim said...

slagotha i think most people with their intellects and psyhce want the block. My personal intellect and pshyce tells me that people who are leaving comments here are already confusing the block of Sorry Dubai with the wider argument as to why there is a proxy in the first place. These are two totally different issues and I dont see no relation between them accept the end result: a proxy. no?
Its obvious FYH (who is am sure is arab AND had an excellent blog IMO) pissed someone off at Etisalat and so the person with the finger on the 'block' button pushed it.

But the reason for the proxy in the 1st place is entirely different and is something i feel many local citizens with their intellects and psyhce support. Read on my blog..*shameless plug* on what Nomaadic has to say.

(yay to me for finally figuring out how to make links in the comments)

Slagothor said...

local hero:

Your assumption that I am conflating two separate issues is incorrect. One is about a person's opinions being censored because somebody in power doesn't like them. The other has to do with "protecting Islamic virtues".

You're right that these are two different things, and I am arguing against the first, not the second. I happen to think that this society is strong enough to withstand unpopular opinions, but clearly, some people have different opinions.

As for the net filters, if I was an Emirati I would find the block to be patronizing and infantilizing (note that Nomaadic agrees with this - he says that giving locals free access to the internet would be like placing an infant in front of a TV playing porn). Moslems in the UK, the US, Turkey, Egypt, etc, seem to be surviving with free access to the full internet, but I am pretty sure that if put to a vote, a majority of the citizens would vote for for the block. As a guest in this country, with awareness in advance of Etisalat's policies, I can't really complain about the proxy, and I'm not. Maybe when you guys have full elections you can vote in politicians who would argue against the block, but we all know that's unlikely.

As I mentoned before, I think that a society that can openly deal with unpopular opinions is a stronger society. But, of course, people are free to disagree.

samuraisam said...

actually there have been vote-type-things in gulf news in the past where internet censorship has been vastly disagreed with.

but as to the accuracy...

Anonymous said...

And how many of the self-aelecting voters in these GN polls were nationals?

e3ashig said...

I hear what you say Slagothor but I have to disagree with you. It seems that you are saying, yes this person is a racist individual as obviously indicated by his posts, but we should let him go on with his racism because we are liberal, smart and intellectual people and we can take him head on. Since when do civilized societies tolerate racism? Racist football fans are banned from attending games. Racist journalists are shut down and often banned from the media. Racist people in the street get put away. It’s illegal to be racist everywhere in this world. I think racist websites should be shut down by Etisalat, or by the ISP who provides the service for these people (a more common course of events). In this case, controversially perhaps, Etisalat were the ones who shut down the website



Now that is a separate argument all together from the proxy debate. I welcome your proxy arguments and accept your point that most people have enough intellect to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. I see where you are coming from. I don’t know the answer to how can we protect the moral and religious values of our country, and at the same time allow enough personal freedom. At this point in time, I think the proxy is a welcomed measure by most endogenous people as they adapt to the new transformation of the country and its dramatic exposure to international values and believe systems. I think it will only be a matter of time before the proxy disappears. These arguments we are having here, and elsewhere will eventually culminate in the disappearance of the proxy. I just do not think it is the right time yet.

samuraisam said...

"And how many of the self-aelecting voters in these GN polls were nationals?"

Who cares?

everyone is PAYING for the INTERNET, not half of it, not what some hapless idiot decides is "ok for little sammy to look at", not what america or anyone else judges, it is for no-one except the end user to decide.


e3ashig: Etisalat did not shutdown the website, they mearly blocked it, the author (feedyourhead) could've easily relocated, and etisalat couldn't have done anything.

Racist websites are rarely shutdown, goatse took like 4 years to be shutdown, and that is far far far worse than any racism.
You are powerless to do anything about websites made, all you can do is not read them, if you disagree with someone, don't read it, or let your opinion be known, or instead go and bitch to etisalat about how evil they are and try and get them to do something about it.

i do not believe sorrydubai was racist, maybe mildly so, but nothing to get your undies in a twist about, there is far far far worse racism in dubai, that happens face to face with real people. not over the internet. REAL PEOPLE.

e3ashig said...

Calling people in UAE "Sand Monkeys" sounds quite racist to me.

I think this person was racist and am glad his website was shut down, if even in UAE as a start. (someone actually pulled the website down and it no longer exists on blogger I am happy to report)I hope that no ISP or blog/hosting service provider accomodates him while his current attitude continues.

As for racism existing in Dubai, Two people doing the wronge thing does not make it right. It does not in the slightest bit justify racism, even if only online.

e3ashig said...

I am just asking sensible people not to give publicity to someone who should not be advertised for. I hope no news/media organization picks this web master as an example of how the proxy is so unfair and so rubbish, thus giving him more publicity than already is.

I was quite happy when SecretDubai's website was removed from the proxy block list and was glad she voiced some concerns in the media both locally and internationally. I thought she deserves the publicity and it all worked out well to further the proxy debate. But this person should not be credited with the same publicity.

samuraisam said...

e3ashig, you are yet another example of someone who cannot read, i suggest you take another look at his blog.

aside from saying sand monkeys once or twice, he does tackle the problem of racism in dubai, which would indicate him of being an opposer to racism.

Here is a fact for you. Dubai turns people into racists. whether you want to deny it or not, it has a habit of turning the nicest people into racists, whether slightly or extremely.

i shit you not, if half the stuff that was acceptable as casual conversation at dinner-parties was acceptable in the rest of the world, we'd all be doomed.

e3ashig said...

I have actually read everything he wrote in his website and have read the discussion here and am aware of the range of topics he choses to address and the manner in which he addresses them. If in your dinner parties you use his sort of language, then I would encourage you to stop. Dubai is a place with lots of problems, and people of civilized and educated societies should not be drown into doing what everbody does without questioning its morality. That would not be a contribution to the community of which we are all now members.


-I Agree that Dubai has problems.
-I accept the arguments against the proxy. I think soon it will go
-I still think the net is better off without the website we are now discussing.
-I think it was Blogger's responsibility to remove the website, not Etisalat. But I have no hard feelings against them for blocking it.

secretdubai said...

-I accept the arguments against the proxy. I think soon it will go

Sadly, it's actually likely to become more draconian. It's also reasonably possible that it will be imposed on the "free" zones (Internet City, Media City) by the TRA.

They will certainly be attempting to impose it, whether the Dubai Dishdashes-That-Be will manage to find a loophole remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

On more than a few occasions FYH has led it slip that he is infact of arabic origins on his blog and other blogs he has commented on.

I dont think a non arab would be so rude to actually be calling arabs racist names on such a public website.

desertblog said...

Why is the proxy "likely to become more draconian" in the future? I would have thought the oppposite would occur as Dubai becomes more exposed to the outside world. Any insider info?

dreamz said...

:-) do u want to be blocked too twin topaz??? these people are sure touchy lot

Anonymous said...

FYI everyone, the blog was not just blocked. It was deleted, most probably by its owner.

Then the subdomain sorrydubai.blogspot.com was hijacked by this guy. on December 13.

I can still access the page, and the most painful irony is, I'm in Saudi Arabia.

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