A Western reader who lives in Turkey wrote to us yesterday and said that Gates of Vienna had been banned in Turkey. This was a signal honor, and I was delighted to hear the news — it meant that we were being effective.
Back in 2006, our good friend Phibian was banned in Pakistan — under his own specific blogspot URL — as part of a list of forbidden blogs. I don’t know how the Pakistani government there managed to filter by subdomain, but it did.
So that’s what I thought must be happening to us in Turkey, but it turned out not to be the case. Here’s what our reader wrote yesterday:
I’m a regular reader of Gates of Vienna who has lived in Erdoganistan since December 2006 because of my wife’s job. Though my family’s Anatolian ordeal is set to end by July, when we’re going to move to Belgium, our liftoff from the Planet of the Arabs couldn’t come a second too soon.
While I’m not going into details about all of those reasons, one of the most annoying of them is the bans on access to websites that the Anatolian Arabs deem harmful to their little patch of the Ummah. YouTube was banned from May 2008 until November 2010. Stop the Islamization of Europe was banned for a few months after we got here, as part of a ban on WordPress pages motivated by claims from a lunatic named Adnan Oktar/Harun Yahya that Richard Dawkins’ page was personally insulting to him. And there are many other such stories I could tell you about, but the bans aren’t all that there is to restrictions on access to the web around here.
Usually, at around the time such bans are to be imposed, data transmission over our web connection grinds to a halt whenever we try to access one of those soon-to-be-forbidden pages. The quickest fix for that is to close the tab in which the page was to be open, restart our modem, wait for the 2-3 minutes that it takes for that piece of junk to get a connection again, and then use the web to visit other pages only. If we wait for the data to start flowing again, it might take five, ten, fifteen… minutes. Te usual rule is five minutes, but occasionally it goes way beyond that.
So it wasn’t at all surprising to me to see that, since sometime last week, access to Gates of Vienna began to make us have to restart our modem every time I clicked on the shortcut I created for it in our Apple browser, Safari (we’ve been using our MacBook only since we moved here). Although I found it annoying as hell, and didn’t think it had anything to do with an upcoming ban, I still decided to use an anonymous proxy every time I visited it.
Today, however, as I opened a new tab in Safari (with the option for thumbnails of the most visited pages turned on) I saw that one of those screen previews displayed a horrible message in red letters that I’m more used to than I’d like to be. And, when I clicked on it, the address bar displayed Gates of Vienna as the latest victim of the Anatolian Arab fascist monkeys’ web censorship. Attached to this e-mail is a screenshot of that bedouin savage absurdity [see the image at the top of this post], so that you guys can see what it looks like. According to Google Translate (my knowledge of Turkish is below elementary) it means “access to site prevented by court order.” Good thing we’ll only have to put up with this kind of nonsense for a few more months.
Take care, and I’ll keep reading the blog through those proxies (which, unfortunately, will not let me post any comments on the articles).
There is one more thing I’ve found out today… The ban isn’t targeted at Gates of Vienna specifically, but at blogger.com and blogspot.com. I decided to look for the list of banned websites here in Turkey, which can be found at this website.
In alphabetical order, the ban on those websites started on page 43. I looked up pages 100-105, where sites starting with G were listed, and GoV was not there. I thought it would have been quite something if the local courts had been specifically targeting GoV, as a sign that they might be concerned about counter-jihadist pages around here. But, unless the ban on blogger and blogspot was motivated by their hosting GoV (which I can’t confirm), there is no way to be sure of that.
I’m sorry if the story now doesn’t seem as big as it seemed to me last night (it was a bit before 11:00 PM when I sent it to you), but only today did it occur to me that I should do that extra checking.
Actually, this makes it no less interesting (although maybe not quite as exciting), because banning blogspot cuts off a huge chunk of the blogosphere, and is sure to irritate a lot of ordinary Turkish web-surfers, not to mention Turkish bloggers who utilize blogspot.
Other countries have banned blogspot in the past. If I remember correctly, Indonesia did it at one point, but popular uproar forced the authorities there to unblock it.
We’ll see if Turkey is forced to back off, too.