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Kingdom lifts ban on controversial online newspaper.

Byline: Samir Al-Saadi

JEDDAH: A two-year Saudi block against the London-based Elaph online daily was lifted on Thursday. The move comes a few days after a major reshuffle in the government. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the daily's technical department, the paper received 40,000 visitors to its website from the Kingdom on the first day the block was lifted.

"We are happy here in Elaph. Saudi readers are very important to us," said Fahd Saud, Elaph's managing editor in the Kingdom. "The amount of readership and advertisements were both affected by the block."

According to Arab News sources, a high government official ordered the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC CITC Communications and Information Technology Commission (Saudi Arabia)
CITC Cottage Industry Technology Center
CITC Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors
CITC Cook Inlet Tribal Council (Anchorage, Alaska) 
) to lift the block.

Saud said the lift was one step of many taken toward increased openness that the Kingdom is currently experiencing under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (Arabic: خادم الحرمين الشريفين), a historical term, was a pious title taken by some Caliphs and modern Saudi kings.  King Abdullah King Abdullah can refer to:
  • Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, regent of Saudi Arabia since 1995 and king since 2005.
  • Abdullah II, king of Jordan since 1999
  • Abdullah I, Emir of Transjordan (1921–1946) and King of Transjordan (1946–1951)
. He added that the government fully understands the importance of free press in the country's development.

No official reason was given for the block, which was implemented in 2006. Saud said there had been some disenchantment dis·en·chant  
tr.v. dis·en·chant·ed, dis·en·chant·ing, dis·en·chants
To free from illusion or false belief; undeceive.



[Obsolete French desenchanter, from Old French,
 with some reports, which had "angered a certain stream of thought."

One letter from a reader posted on Elaph's "Your Views" section was considered blasphemous blas·phe·mous  
adj.
Impiously irreverent.



[Middle English blasfemous, from Late Latin blasph
. The letter was pulled within an hour and the daily's publisher and editor in chief, Othman Al-Omair, appeared on Al Arabiya Al Arabiya (Arabic: العربية) is an Arabic-language television news channel. It was established on March 3 2003.  explaining what had happened and apologizing for the mistake. Within the month the paper was blocked in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. .

"A technical error resulted in the publication of a particular opinion piece, but within an hour it came to our notice and the article was dropped," Saud said.

Elaph, as some people accuse, does not favor one stream of thought over another, he said, adding that the daily never prevented anyone from writing.

"We in Elaph have a tendency to forgive those who falsely accused us, so we wish others would forgive us if a mistake was made," he said.

The ban has been widely attributed to publisher Al-Omair's controversial public outbursts. In one case, he said the only thing Arab ministers of information could agree on was media censorship. He had also said the Internet represents the only hope of escaping censorship and state intervention in presenting accurate news and analysis.

The veteran Saudi journalist stirred public outrage in the Arab world “Arab States” redirects here. For the political alliance, see Arab League.
The Arab World (Arabic: العالم العربي; Transliteration: al-`alam al-`arabi) stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the
 when he said in an interview on Turki Al-Dakheel's "Idha'at," Al Arabiya channel's version of "Larry King Live Larry King Live is a nightly CNN interview program hosted by broadcaster and writer Larry King. The show premiered in 1985, and is CNN's most watched program, with over one million viewers nightly. ," that he strongly believes one day humans will find a cure for death, a statement that defies Qur'anic teaching.

Elaph claims that it receives 15 million hits and 240,000 visitors daily.

The lift of the block came without any effort by its publisher, said an inside source that wished not to be identified.

On Feb. 15, Al-Omair attended a function to honor reporters at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry as an honorary guest. He was reported to have said at the event that he did not consider the block by the government to be among his top priorities and that he wouldn't strive to have it lifted.

Elaph claims that it receives 15 million hits and 240,000 visitors daily.

Veteran journalist Sir Sidahmed said government censorship is a thing of the past due to the Internet.

"Readers are interactive now," he said. "With technology they can easily place their comments on stories and publish their own through the Net, for example."

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Feb 23, 2009
Words:586
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