Egypt Blocks 21 News Websites Including Al-Jazeera

Egypt has banned 21 websites, including the main website of Qatar-based al Jazeera television, claiming that they are “supporting terrorism”, according to Reuters.

Reuters said that it had tried to access five websites named by local Egyptian newspapers and broadcasters, including the Al Jazeera website, and found them all inaccessible.

There was no immediate official comment available.

An official from the National Telecom Regulatory Authority could not confirm or deny the news, but said: “So what if it is true? It should not be a problem.”

Middle East News Agency (MENA), state-owned news agency,cited a senior security source as saying the websites, which also included some Egypt-focused websites hosted abroad such as Masr Al Arabiya that the government says are financed by Qatar, were blocked allegedly because they supported terrorism.

A senior security source said,” 21 websites have been blocked inside Egypt for having content that supports terrorism and extremism as well (as) publishing lies,”according to MENA.

The security source said legal action would be taken against the websites, MENA reported.

Reuters cited two security sources said that the websites were blocked for being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood or for being funded by Qatar.

Cairo accuses Qatar of supporting the Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in Egypt in 2013 when a military coup removed Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.

However, Mada Masr, an Egyptian news website based inside the country which describes itself as progressive and has no Islamist or Qatari affiliations, was also inaccessible on Wednesday.

Moreover, Huffington Post’s Arabic website also was inaccessible, although the international version was accessible.

Mada and the Huffington Post were not named by security sources – who said there were 21 websites but named only five – as part of the list of blocked websites.

On on Wednesday, block follows similar actions taken earlier by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who got into a war of words with Qatar and blocked Al Jazeera and other websites.

Qatar said hackers had posted fake remarks by its emir against U.S. foreign policy but the Saudi and UAE state-run media reported the comments anyway.