Saturday, March 6, 2010

Well, that was unexpected! Muscat Confidential finally censored by Oman's Government over ... a photo of women kissing

UPDATE: Muscat Confidential has been unblocked after about 12 hrs of being censored. Thanks to all the emails to Omantel readers - they seem to have worked, along with, I can only presume, my removing of the offending photo of the two girls kissing.

Special thanks too to local bloggers (in no particular order):
Dhofari Gucci, Mr Sythe, Suburban, Muscato, Angry in Oman, Jet Driver, The Restless Quill, Non-Crowned Princess, and all the others.

Thank you for the support. It worked. Normal business is resumed. And to the haters who were crowing and bragging... well. You just KNOW what I'm thinking... heh heh.

And thanks Omantel and/or Mr. TRA for listening. Next time, maybe send me an email about what you're objecting to? Sometimes just asking will get results, you know?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Yes, well, I can hardly say it was a surprise. It seems today the internet censors here in the Sultanate of Oman have blocked Muscat Confidential.

Nice pic - image credit: deviantart.com

As a result, standard requests through the only internet gateway available to people within Oman will not connect to this site right now. Those outside Oman obviously continue to have access. As do those within Oman who either use a VPN or who know how to circumvent the filters (quite trivial, in reality).

It would seem likely that the cause of the block was a photo used to illustrate the post where Muscat Confidential interviewed a local blogger from Community Queer, who is an Omani bi-lesbian woman. Some people objected to the photo as being against the 'cultural and religious traditions of Oman', even though it was quite a tame photo of two young women exchanging a kiss. Shocking, I know. But obviously enough to convince the censors to block the whole website.

The offending photo has been removed, as it was not Oman specific (in fact, the women were almost certainly not from Oman) and was purely used to provide an image to support the interview.

Lets now see if the block will be reversed as a result of appeals to Omantel.

It's actually most surprising to me that this what what finally got Muscat Confidential blocked, after a couple of years of this blog annoying various important people and posts ranging from Government corruption through to expropriation of land and various shady dealings among the great and the good.

In the end, all it took was 1 image of 2 fully clothed young ladies kissing. One has to laugh at the irony.

Supporters of Muscat Confidential within Oman can submit a request on the 'This site is blocked' form that appears when you try to access the site normally. This seemed to work for the recent blocking and rapid unblocking of Community Queer, so its true that Omantel do respond to public opinion.

Those outside Oman can send a request by clicking here:
here, which will also let you experience the magic of having someone tell you what sites you can visit!

More on this to come.

Note: Normal service at Muscat Confidential will be maintained. The block doesn't mean I'm in prison or anything equally crazy.

Tomorrow: A Cautionary Tale for Filipino housemaids intending to come to the Sultanate of Oman.

34 comments:

  1. I totally agree with what Omantel did. Talking about corruption and expropriation of lands is very welcomed and encouraged. But it is tottaly unacceptable to post offending photos regardles if the girls are Omanies or not!

    Please accept my point of view.

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  2. haha

    Lets wait and see I guess :)

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  3. howdy

    oops - how did I do that?

    ;-))

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  4. Mr Undercover
    I do not always like your blog, and the photo was not good.

    But I am unhappy Omantel have done this. This makes Oman look like Iranians.

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  5. Anon,
    You see, I don't find it offensive at all, and it's something that almost certainly happens every day.

    But the photo's now been removed.

    Lets see if that's enough, or if perhaps it was just enough of a reason for people to justify the block and your understandable sensibilities are simply being (ab)used...\

    Sythe
    LOL. Thanks, BTW.

    Fred,
    Yes, its such a powerful filter isn't it?

    Anon,
    Thx. Tell Omantel!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is very embarassing for Oman. Shame on Omantel. I just wrote to them. Hopefully enough of us will write to them so that thet may change their silly and petty mind.
    To the first Anonymous poster, homosexuality is very much apart of Omani culture, as it is in any culture. It won't go away just by you not wanting to talk about it or acknowledge it.

    Many Omanis and expats alike find Muscat Confidential a "must read" so Omantel just pissed off A LOT of people.

    As Mr Cohen so eloquently said in a comment on a previous post, His Majesty has fostered a tolerant and open-minded society, compared to other countries in the region. Shame on Omantel for being so backward!

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  7. It's actually most surprising to me that this what what finally got Muscat Confidential blocked, after a couple of years of this blog annoying various important people and posts ranging from Government corruption through to expropriation of land and various shady dealings among the great and the good.
    Dear UD,
    In my point of view you needed the attention and you have done something seriously stupid by posting that pic knowing what is going to happen and this what we have to stop as media partners....please mate this is not the way we pay back to this innocent country..you know what I meant.

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  8. 2119 Local Time

    Muscat Confidential is now unblocked.

    JD

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  9. there, i unblocked it!

    what they say, a picture's worth a thousand words?

    you got to try again, only next time with animated characters. family guy on fox gets away with murder and sodomy in prime time just because they're animated ;)

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  10. aw shucks, he's back?!

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  11. i also sent the form to say it was Bullsh*t

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  12. Please lets be reasonable and respectful to this country in posting anything.

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  13. This is my very 1st post , i hope i am welcomed among you all , since i came to know about your blog i have been following your article every single day, and i find my self looking forward for the day after , that's how your article gets me excited because its too directed, and very real! :)

    Who ever complained about the photo i find him limited minded, and over assuming him self protecting the culture , INSTEAD protecting it , can for god sake face it!

    I ask my self, why is that facing the reality of this fact is becoming to hard to understand for the complainers !

    the artical was very direct and clear that we do have a bio-leasibans in oman, with an exclusive interview , so why was the artical not an issue and the photo was, thats even more reflecting our culture , People Grow up!!!

    Sorry to say , who ever was assuming protecting the culture, you protected your mind of not seeing the truth !

    Thank God, Thanks GOD , that our eyes is yet not BLOCKED! haahahah

    Well Done Dragen, keep it up ;)

    Knd Regards,

    M

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  14. I really hope everyone recognises what "Shatti" did to unblock UD's blog. I know for a fact that he is a friend of HE Mohammed Nasser Al Khasibi and that he personally called him on his mobile to express his dismay. HE Al Khasibi is a very respected man and he told the powers that be what to do. Kudos to a great man in Oman: HE Mohammed Nasser Al Khasibi!

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  15. John Fitzgerald Kennedy: "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan".

    It was silly to block Muscat Confidential in the first place - as 'M' noted rather observantly, the photo was probably the least potentially offensive part of the post.

    Perhaps the English language is my number one protector?

    Still, on we go...

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  16. Hi Dragon,

    Don't be churlish. There are battles to be fought, and there proud victories to be had, but you got it kinda wrong. Accept it and move on, you are much, much better than that. Timing is everything.

    Nah then, wot's all the rabbit on the Blue City Bond/CDS goings on? Nuffing, or wot? Also, who's gonna be digging up PDO for 'da boy's' then? And wot about all these private drinking clubs in Muscat where the BSD's (well, probably Small SD's actually) take all their lovely 'Margaritas'. There must be some good copy there. No? Annnnd, wot about 'ol Issa Al Zebedee (http://www.starstore.com/acatalog/Zebedee-poster_L.jpg)? Eee's gotta be getting kinda pissed with some good competition going down eh? Can't you cattle-prod im a bit more? I like to see 'em jump about a bit in the office as it gets kinda gets a bit borin' sometimes. Know what I mean?

    Willie D.

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  17. welcome back dragon :)
    i knew they cudnt block u for long.. Ur extremely popular
    plus quite strongly opinionated tht they wudnt dare unblock u

    just wondering, shatti n UD, r u friends? Do u know each other in reality?

    Cheers!

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  18. So the dragon rises again , keep the fire burning ;-)

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  19. And you though you were untouchable, Omanis gave you the freedom you requested and what did you do? Misused it. To your culture it’s just a picture of two girls kissing but to us it’s offensive. Why can’t you get it in your silly mind that you are in an Islamic country and your blog is visited by many people including the civilised ones unlike your whore buddies who supported your move.
    Anyways Im glad you are back.

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  20. Now you can continue your tabloid lies, misinformation and baseless character assassinations to feed the brainless sheep. After all, dimwits like little Willie D need your crap to fulfill his pitiful existence.

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  21. UD,
    I have great respect for you and everyday I first browse your blog, before reading anything else.

    The moment I saw the photo I knew that you will be in trouble.

    I am happy that the block is removed.

    You are really lucky or probably too powerful or have excellent vastha, that you are getting away with it, although personally I don't see anything wrong with the photo, we have to accept that it is bit too much for a country like Oman, to allow it.

    Remember anything can be classified as "blasephemy" conveniently. If you were in Saudi you will see the gulliotine. Thank god you are in Oman.

    Go a bit slow, let Oman grow more before you try what may "outrageous" for locals, howsoever justifiable it may be in other parts of the world.

    I really want to continue to read Muscat confidential, so please don't close it down by yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  22. UD,
    I think you mix two things. The reports on the mishaps are allowed because those are actually illegal, but difficult to root out. The postings annoy the powers that be because those powers know that as long as they can continue outside the public eye, nothing will change (that is the whole reason of existence of corruption).
    By posting the photo you actually did something illegal. There is a difference between changing actions to make someone comply with the law, or trying to change the law! As a guest to Oman you should leave that to the Omanis

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  23. In what way was the photo offensive?

    These ignorant idiots don't realise when banning such matters it draws even more attention to THEM!

    Anyway, as a hetrosexual I think the more homosexuals the better.....more women for me!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Pessimisticaly OptimisticMarch 7, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    Hmmmmm
    Welcome back UD
    very interesting comments - Obviously touched a few nerves - which is great!! On all our behalf' please don't stop.
    I did a quick google on "arab women kissing" - amongst the results were the following ....

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_I3Q1kT0tz2A/Sf_GIk0b6jI/AAAAAAAAC50/DGchXQwPHPc/s400/Bush_Prince_Abdullah_kiss_hold_hands.jpg

    http://www.betar.co.uk/articles/pictures/arab_men_kissing.jpg

    One wonders if those offended by the picture of girls kissing are similarly moved by these?

    Onwards and upwards!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Sorry I'm late joining the party but I have had computer problems. I was reading the blog about the assassination in Dubai when the block came on.

    Congratulations on being important enough to be a 'target' on the Omantel radar. But I remember when reading the article on homo-bi-sexualism, asking myself why you published the photo. It added little to the post and exposed you to needless criticism. Anyway, its history now.

    However, I think the final irony to the entire affair is probably use of 'wasta' by the man who called the head of Omantel on his GSM and got him to unblock the site.

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  26. Honestly don't know whether Omantel know what they are doing half the time. Tried to check the magazine "The Lady" online. For those who don't know it, it's a gentle, innoffensive and very well respected ladylike publication. The queen probably reads it! It's now 125 yrs old!I cannot imagine what heinous photos of English country gardens and chutney recipes could possibly offend anyone, but the website has been blocked! I give up!

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  27. Man it sucks tht u got blocked. It sucks even more that u had to delete your post with the girls kissing I was on a roll there owning every one of u gay lovers and supporters now my comments are gone too its a shame they were so witty.

    As a true omani born and raised here I can safely say Oman can go to hell I am leaving this place as soon as I can.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Friends let us all give a big hand to UD for the guts and gumption he had shown. He is a man and had the courage to post the photo, knowing very well that there is trouble ahead.
    How many of us who just come and pass comments would do it?

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  29. Fascinating. Wastafarians saving UD's own neck at the first sign of trouble. Is this the same wasta that you so bitterly and openly despise? The true hypocrite is revealed.

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  30. I wasn't day-dreaming. I think MC was blocked again yesterday. How strange!

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  31. A few people have commented that the picture was offensive to 'us'... who is 'us'? Omani people? First of all not all Omani's find it offensive, second of all there ARE homosexuals and bi-sexuals in Oman. So please don't refer to the people of Oman as 'us', because not all of us share the same opinion.

    Censorship doesn't protect people from anything, it makes people less aware therefore harming them as oppose to protecting them. And what was this supposed to protect us from exactly? Homosexuality isn't a bloody disease, it is a sexual preference.

    Kudos to you UD, and much respect.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for using my "Government Censorship" piece! Mind giving me a link for credit? Thanks! :)

    http://luvataciousskull.deviantart.com/art/GOVERNMENT-CENSORSHIP-137270461

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks Mark Skull - link now attached. Great art. Apologies for the rip.

    Dragon

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