BlackBerry Internet access blocked in Egypt as protests continue for third day
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BlackBerry Internet access has been reportedly blocked in Egypt on the third day of violent protests calling for political reform in the country.
On Tuesday, Twitter and Facebook were blocked by the Egyptian government, which has been run by President Hosni Mubarak for more than 30 years.
Mubarak’s grip on power is a central issue fueling the protests, and demonstrators have demanded the 82-year-old leave office and that term limits be created as well.
The BlackBerry Web shut-down has been reported by Twitter users from Egypt who have accessed the site using third-party applications and other loopholes in the governments blocking of the site.
The take-down of the BlackBerry Web access was also reported by the site TechCrunch, which noted reports aren’t clear whether all Internet usage has been blocked or just parts.
Officials at Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry smart phones, were not available to comment on the Internet service blocks Thursday.
The moves to cut Web access and stifle the use of social-media services such as Twitter and Facebook have been cited by many as an attempt by the Egyptian government to disrupt the mobilization of the demonstrators.
The Internet, and social media websites in particular, have become a tool for protesters to organize themselves and also to report on what’s taking place.
Similar moves took place last week in Tunisia, where protesters overthrew the government and used social media websites, along with YouTube and other Web technologies, to plan protest events and spread reports on the unrest.
But in Egypt, just as in Tunisia, people have also reportedly found ways around Web roadblocks, using third-party applications and proxy servers to access websites and services.
The news of the BlackBerry block coincided with word Thursday that the former head of the United Nation’s nuclear regulatory agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, returned to Egypt from his home in Vienna to take part in the protests.
ElBaradei, who is also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, heads up a group known as the National Front for Change, which is also calling for Egyptian constitutional reforms and increased political freedoms.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Top Photo: A protester is carried away after being fatally shot allegedly by riot police during clashes in Sheikh Zuweid in the Sinai, about 214 miles northeast of Cairo, on Thursday as Egyptians demanded the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Credit:AFP/Getty Images. Middle right photo: An antigovernment protester throws objects at a riot police vehicle in the port city of Suez,about 83 miles east of Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday. Credit: Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Reuters. Bottom left photo: Mohamed ElBaradei, seen in a January 2008 file photo, returned to his native Egypt on Thursday to take part in protests against the government. Credit: Farzaneh Khademian/Abaca Press/MCT.