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Iraq once again blocks social media sites

Social networking sites have been blocked once again in Iraq yesterday, to the surprise of Internet users as it comes only one week after the sites were unblocked.

Leith Samir, an internet user, told Anadolu: “We were surprised that the social networking sites were blocking again by the government, without warning after it was returned to service a week ago.”

Another internet user, Miqdad Tariq, said: “The government did not succeed the first time to tighten its control over the blocked sites because there are programmes that help people get around blocks. These actions [blocking the sites] are useless.”

The Ministry of Communications decided abruptly yesterday to ban a number of social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Viber and Whatsapp in Baghdad and several provinces after the unrest that has gripped Iraq recently.

This came a week after the services were unblocked. The previous stop in service last two weeks, Internet users said.

Ministry of Communications spokesman Samir Al-Bayati told Anadolu news: “The ministry is working according to the orders of senior security leaders to cut off Internet services due to the ongoing war against terrorism.”

He continued: “We are receiving orders to block sites to communicate the fact that the war with ISIS is now the media war and the government wants to control those sites to prevent rumours being broadcasted.”

Since June 12, controlled Sunni groups, led by the organisation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), have taken control of several areas in northern and western Iraq.

While outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki describes these groups as “terrorist”, Sunni figures call what is happening “a popular Sunni uprising against the injustices carried out by the sectarian Shia-led government”.

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