Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stop Press: New Omani Blog Community Queer blocked by ... Omantel

Update: 15 Feb.
Community Queer is now magically unblocked! Perhaps 'someone wearing a tie' got involved... And as Abdullah pointed out, Community Queer got a lot of free advertising and now undoubtably more popular than ever. So try to take advantage of the opportunity Scudder and Finns.

Photo: Unaccountable employees of a private company decide what you can see on the internet in Oman. And if they want to block harmless blogs by local Omanis, they can.

Well, how spookily coincidental, following a mini-post on Freedom of Expression in Oman. The arbitrary and almost absolute powers over our internet access, wielded by the faceless technocrats at a publicly traded company - Omantel - have decided to block a promising local blog called Community Queer.

Shame on you Omantel. Shame on you TRA.

Community Queer is authored by 2 Omani homosexuals (OK, one is bi-sexual). This in itself was unique and encouraging. The blog was totally innocuous.

Here's their header and info.



The members of Community Queer will hereby be known as Scudder and Finn. Scudder is a famously closeted and sexually inclined female of the lesbian variety. She likes boys too, when they look like girls (I guess she's bisexual, but whatever, right?). She enjoys classical music, quality books, and the colors purple, yellow, and green! Finn is the male half of the Queer duo. He likes boys. A lot. He likes girls too, but only if their clothes are on. Along with boys, Finn enjoys music, books, and throwing dirt at people.

So, who is it that decides these things on our behalf? Who are these people who decide, without review, without published guidelines, to impose arbitrary censorship on the entire country? George Orwell would be proud. This is fascism folks.

I wouldn't care so much if it was just for Omantel customers. But these people have monopoly control over access to the entire internet for the entire country, no matter what service provider.

So, people. Send Omantel an email asking them to unblock their site. (just try to follow the link on the blogroll on the right and you'll be offered an opportunity to send a message to the censors).

You can also refer to an old post here on the expert solutions to circumventing such low tech internet filters. You can even use Google as your proxy. I'll up date the blogroll link to do that for you automatically soon.

UPDATE: Done. See the last link or click here to tunnel around the basic Omantel censor if you are in Oman. Isn't Google so neat?

I also trust this will be perhaps picked up by the international media. Who knows what stories they'll decide to tag the story with, in a search for ironic local context?

Well done faceless idiot in Omantel!!! [just a hint, Omantel filter manager troll, you've probably got about, oh, maybe 1 day before you might find yourself really really regretting such a stupid thing as blocking this site and bringing the world's attention to this article). Think about it, you dimwit.... got it? Maybe ask someone wearing a tie.

It's not like the block is even effective against an average 9 year old.


  1. I'm sorry for everyone disappointed here.

    But don't blame Omantel too much, please. Maybe it was their job (yes!) and maybe... someone begged them to block it?

  2. Their site works for me in Englandland at the moment.

  3. NCP
    Rubbish. The old 'I vas just following orders' excuse? Who put them in charge? Why should some bigoted beggar control access to the nation's internet?

    And what's worse is this story could prove embarrassing... It's so STUPID. Grrr.

    Er. Well, you're in 'Englandland' - even Omantel can't block the whole global internet.

    English Literature major?

  4. I emailed Omantel, for what it's worth. Assholes. I hate that, who are they to say what I can and cannot read?

  5. Yo show em' Dragon!

    I actually think they were blocked because their last post 'Jihad for Love' had a video about gay Islamic scholars. Even if I were the dumbest person on earth, I'd be careful about posting that.

    One day I'm going to find out who the guys are who sit at their desks blocking websites. I WILL FIND OUT. And then I'll blog about it :)

  6. Dragon- my fingers are hurting while I type this, but I think that 'Queer Blog' went over the limits on community decency and I have no problem with Omantel blocking it. I read it once and thought I would not read it any more. The irony is by 'blocking it', Omantel will make it even more popular. I don't think I am anti-gay, I have a good friend who is an out-of-the-closet homosexual, I just thought the blog was amateurish and in bad taste. And I do think it is a function of the government to uphold standards of decency for the community. As you said in a previous post, free speech has its limits.

  7. Suburban
    I may work... but I suspect it wasn't a mistake.

    Yeah, 'cos if we let people think for themselves, who knows what might happen eh? This is the attitude that is going to keep Oman behind and backward for ever...

    Then, maybe don't read it? Glad you have a gay friend though. That means you're not anti-gay, definitely.

  8. "I think that 'Queer Blog' went over the limits on community decency and I have no problem with Omantel blocking it."

    I agree with Abdullah ^^

  9. I think the phrase "that queer Blog" went over the boundaries of common decency and Abdullah should be blocked.

  10. Wasn't that calling things with what they have been called with?

  11. NCP
    I think the point was to do with where the argument ends. Who decides?

    Maybe start with Milton.

  12. I am new to Muscat and new to the blogging scene. I have been reading most of the Muscat based blogs with interest, and all of them seem and honest and intelligent, except perhaps Muscat Confidential, who is a major disappointment. He uses abusive language and has an air of cocky self assurance that his sarcasms are humorous and well received. But no, I think that he is not only an egoist, but crosses all limits of decency and fairness.

    I refer, in particular, to his recent post on an article on cervical cancer in the newly launched Muscat Daily. I am no journalist myself, but I fail to understand why, when an article mentions where a particular medicine is available, it becomes a PR? Don''t the readers have a right to know where they can get hold of the vaccine?'

    Again, I think Muscat Confidential has missed the whole point of the story, which is that the vaccine IS finally available in Muscat. Someone has to first talk about the vaccine, before going on about the degree of its efficiency. Or I am wrong?

    So Muscat Confidential, I urge you to be a tad more diplomatic and fair when criticising others. I am not a journalist but I respect the breed and do not claim to publicise more than I know. Through that comment you, Muscat Confidential, have exposed how little you know about the profession. It would be my suggestion that before you start lambasting others, you examine your own inadequacies. And learn the basics of journalism.

    Just a suggestion. For the common good.

  13. this entire post sounds like manufactured outrage. is a hardly-trafficked blog with no real substance the most important website to unblock here?????

  14. First, Rants in Muscat is an idiot....and has an entire blog with one entry dedicated to the exact message he just wrote - which in my opinion is kind of stalkerish considering it is about UD. In addition, I will defend UD's statement regarding the advertisement for the miracle cure. The way they are phrasing it IS an important element as UD pointed out and misleading the public to think it is a cure-all is like handing over a long sword made of sharpened steel and saying "this is made of rubber and if you plunge it into your guts it won't hurt you....give it a try! But first pay me $900!" Maybe rant should learn to read before sharing his/her opinion?

    Second, I think it is really sad when a government decides what I can and can't look at. However, the true nature is that I'm not living in Oman right now and this is one of the things that made it easier for me to move. I like to be able to decide for myself what I'm going to look at or read. But Oman is not a free country, regardless of how they paint it. I can personally get access from Doha and took a seems to me that the reason for blocking was probably the statement regarding having "left islam a long time ago." It probably wasn't the statements about homosexuality or even the film itself (which I haven't watched...perhaps if there is nudity they blocked it - although just flipping through my channels in Muscat I saw more flesh than in my entire life!) There were a few things I dealt with while I lived in had to deal with religion. I found that the government was extremely sensitive about people potentially leaving islam or giving them any options to even entice them in that direction. Offense is taken strongly from one leaving or even making the statement that they are removed from Islam. In my opinion...the reason someone blocked was based on this statement. I don't think it is right...but I think after reading that statement was the cause.

  15. Rants in Muscat
    I am sure you work for MPH.
    I am also reading many blogs (not all) and have great respect for UD. Yes,he is confident, proud and may be filthy rich and is not apologetic about it, but what we are concerned as readers, is the stuff he brings out, which we cant read in the media here. I don't think anybody is interested in personal details of UD. We need guys like him here to get to know the news.
    The big point in that news was 1) The vaccine is not a sure shot for all kinds of cancers 2) It is exhorbitantly priced 3) Such news which are basically in the nature of an advertisement should appear as advertisement and not news.
    If MPH can bring the vaccine, it is only a matter of time that other hospitals will bring it.

  16. Rants in Muscat: Welcome to Muscat and blogging.

    I am a journalist and let me tell you a few things you don't know because you aren't one. It is the duty of a hospital or a pharma company to make people aware that a vaccine is now available to the public. That's what ad houses are for.

    A journalist and a newspaper's job is to evaluate all that the PR copy states. Anita Joseph's copy should have told you all that MC and the comments on that post by others said -- advantages, distadvanges, cost and if it is that expensive why is it that expensive; success rates around the world, how well received or not around the world and a little feedback from the hospital itself would have made it a "story" instead of a press release, which is what it was.

    Besides, when you mention ONLY ONE establishment (hospital, salon, sex shop, for example) you're plugging that particular place. If there aren't other hospitals that it's available at, then that should be mentioned. If there are, then those should be listed also. But since Muscat Daily didn't do either, we will never know, will we?

    That said, let's start mass emailing Omantel to unblock mostly inoffensive sites like this one. I have a long list. (What's offensive about And I can't stop laughing at how you got around the block, Dragon.

  17. All this mock outrage. There are Gay people everywhere in all forms of society, creed and religions. Why should they have any less rights than others in Oman than another country? Oman is going into denial if it believes there are no Gay people or groups.

    Who is responsible for such decisions and hypocricy?

  18. I think the emails worked. Or it was a mistake, the block is off!

  19. According to Dhofari Gucci, the site's unblocked...and he's right!

  20. UD - I am aware of the Internet being a global thing, however where the blog is hosted has effect on how wide the block can be. If the blog is hosted in Oman it could still be blocked for me in the UK by the local Oman provider.

    Englandland - only messing with wordage. If the Americans can extend our language for no good reason then so can we Brits :-)

  21. well .. its unblocked now for all to see.
    Peace !!!

  22. @Devils Advocat: No one's denying there are Omani gays. How can blocking their blog be considered as denial? Talking about their rights.. they can be whatever they want but the whole society has the right not to change because of them.

  23. NCP

    Did you look at the link to Milton? (naturally, I more closely aligned to John Stuart Mills).

  24. Amber: I think Rants is Anita Joseph. Don't you? Or at least someone from Muscat Daily. Ergo the many declarations that he or she is not a journalist.

  25. I didn't read it all last night. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  26. Restless Quill...I think I'm convinced that NO ONE from Muscat Daily is a journalist.

  27. Dragon- I think you should realize who are your friends and who are not your friends, and not waste your sarcasm on your friends.

    In my opinion, the message is very clear. Omantel can block any Oman blog site at any time it 'feels' does not meet its 'standards', and there's not diddly squat anyone in the blog-a-sphere can do about it.

    I am glad the Gay (PC correct term) blog is unblocked, although I still probably will not read it. My blog read time is very limited. I am in the private sector, scrambling around for work. Maybe one day if I can be a Government Consultant- who knows.

  28. Amber, JC

    Milton's piece from 1644 (?) is one of the most famous defenses of free speech ever.

    I know. Sometimes I'm like the scorpion crossing the river... and its been a busy, busy week.

    Huge kisses. And keep that private sector going. The country needs you.

    You are entitled to your opinion my dear. As you demonstrated, those who publish under a by-line have to take responsibility for what's underneath it.

  29. Amber, you are my new best friend :D
    But seriously, what do you think happened over there at Community Queer?

  30. On the blocking thing. "They" blocked our business website - for ages. I guess they thought that fishing equipment and charters were .. unacceptable. What the? Anyway, it only took us about three weeks of persistent harassment by our PRO (you see? that's why we have PRO's, otherwise half of Oman would be unemployed - err, the half that aren't ... )
    Fish Girl


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