Sunday, 19 July 2009
AP reports that the Afghan interior ministry has blocked at least five internet sites, four of which feature the name of President Hamid Karzai and one named after the current interior minister. The sites are:
(The President's official website can be found here)
www.hamidkarzai.com has clearly been put up by opponents of the President. It consists of a single page with a picture of Karzai in the company of US special forces soldiers in November 2001 (see above) and tries to suggest that Karzai was put in power by the CIA:
"It is worth noting that while this picture confirms how Karzai owed his safety only to the US "A-team" protection, most American media and the BBC were portraying Karzai as the "leader of the Pashtuns ," as it was alleged that he was the one who had started to raise Afghanistan's Southern tribes against the Taliban rule. It is pertinent to note that Mr. Hamid Karzai's following was, for the least, meager and not really Afghan!"
www.hamidkarzai.net does not appear to be functioning at all. www.karzai.com appears to be offering various sexual services with Russian women, while www.karzai.net is an online store connected to Ariana TV in Afghanistan.
The final site, www.karimkhoram.com, is named after the interior minister, but has been put up by Kabul Press to protest about the conviction and continuing detention of journalist student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, who was initially sentenced to death - later commuted to 20 years in prison - for downloading and distributing a report criticising the treatment of women under Islamic Law.
A spokesman for Karzai's presidential campaign, Waheed Omar, at first admitted that the sites had been closed at their request, but later denied this.
Although the sites cannot be viewed by anyone using any of the 25 Afghan ISPs, they can easily be seen through other links.
Update: According to a statement on its website, Kabul Press, which receives 600,000 hits a month, has also now been blocked. The statement says: "Because Kabulpress targets corruption in the Afghan government, aid agencies working in Afghanistan, and international governments that support the current Afghan government, it has been a thorn in the side of the Karzai administration for several years." The article says that it has been aware for some time of an impending crackdown on websites by the Afghan government.