(AFP) – May 20, 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iranian authorities have blocked access to several websites and blogs of women's rights advocates and journalists critical of the government, a press report said on Tuesday.
The move follows a new directive sent out by a committee tasked with identifying illegal websites to Internet service providers, the reformist Etemad Melli newspaper said without giving a source.
"There seems to be a tougher approach this time as some sites and weblogs belonging to women's rights and human rights campaigners, writers critical of the government and well-known journalists" have been singled out, it said.
Internet providers in Iran have in recent years been told to block access to hundreds of political, human rights and women's sites and weblogs for expressing dissent or deemed to be pornographic and anti-Islamic.
The report said several feminist websites including Meydaan-e Zanan (Women's Field), Kanoon Zanan Irani (Iranian Women's Centre), Shir Zanan which covers women's sporting events, and "Change for Equality" have been blocked.
The ban has targeted the "One Million Signatures" campaign websites launched in different Iranian cities as well as in Germany, Kuwait, Cyprus and California in the United States, the report said.
The campaign seeks to change the Islamic republic's laws for women in marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody by collecting signatures online and in person.
The ban has also targeted popular social networking sites and news sites, while several cyber journalists and bloggers have been detained.
With more than half the 70-million-strong population aged under 30, Iran has one of the highest number of bloggers in the world. Persian-language blogs have multiplied since a crackdown on the reformist press in 2000.
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