Moroccan YouTube ban elicits negative reaction from citizens

Posted by Mark Raby

Rabat (Morocco) - Moroccon Internet users have been banned from accessing YouTube for over a week, and now some are beginning to doubt the government's response that the problem is due to a "technical glitch".

The video sharing site has been blocked from subscribers of Morocco's Maroc Telecom, a state-run company that provides the majority of Internet access, since last Friday.  A government spokesperson told the Associated Press it was unable to comment, and Maroc Telecom would not go further than to say it was a glitch.

However, skeptics are wondering how a glitch would prevent access to only one site, and why it hasn't been fixed in four days.  "They've clearly blocked YouTube," said local student Abdelhakin Albarkani.  It "allowed us to see things the state newspapers and television won't show."

Videos criticizing the country's treatment of Western Sahara, a Moroccon-owned territory, went up on the site shortly before it became unavailable to Maroc Telecom subscribers.

Morocco is in the same category as Thailand, with strict laws that prohibit overt criticism about the government and its ruler.  Thailand received international attention when it banned YouTube because of a video that insulted the country's king.