Meet ‘Naqa’ Tube: Saudi Arabia’s purified You Tube



 
In its latest bid to protect religious virtue and cultural morals on the Internet, Saudi Arabia has introduced its own “clean” alternative to the leading video-sharing site You Tube. Naqa Tube, billed as “the pure You Tube”, censors all video material deemed harming towards the national authorities and Saudi citizens, including music videos and footage depicting women.
 
By ALEXANDRA SANDELS
 
KSA Naqatube



CAIRO, August 28, 2009 (MENASSAT) —Naqa Tube translates into “pure” tube and runs under the slogan, “Participate with us in a clean website.” It offers a collection of edited and “clean” clips from the original You Tube. Site visitors are presented with a wide array of footage of discussion forums and meetings with Islamic clerics and scholars, among other religious-related topics.

According to the Saudi-based English daily Arab News, Naqa Tube blocks all videos perceived negative towards to the “Kingdom’s government, scholars and citizens.”

This includes music and videos that have women in them.

Naqa Tube moderator Abu Ibraheem says the site has received between 5,000 to 6,000 visitors since its official launching in June.

For the past months, a special squad known as the “Saudi flagger campaign” has been scanning You Tube for videos deemed offending to the kingdom. Once a clip depicting inappropriate material is found, the task force flags the video and requests the site’s administrator to take it off the site. 

The campaign proved unpopular in liberal Saudi blogging circles.

“First, what is an offending video? What are the criteria for such thing? I mean, what is offending to you can be quite harmless to me, right? So who gets to decide which videos are offending? Second, YouTube is already heavily censored by CITC [Communications & Information Technology Commission]. Do we need another layer of censorship?” wrote Saudi blogger Saudijeans in a blogpost criticizing the Saudi flagging campaign.

As a counterpunch to the You Tube flagging campaign, Saudi Jeans sarcastically suggested the launching of “Saudi Unflagger.”

Saudi Arabia is one of the leading Internet censors in the Middle East, with an estimated hundreds of thousands of sites blocked.

The kingdom’s CITC blocks broad swaths of the Web, from sites containing porn or “immoral” content to political opposition sites and gambling forums, through the use of software.

Saudijeans expressed concern over increased web censorship through the flagging campaign.

“I think that organizing a campaign for such purpose is a just a waste of time and effort. What is worse, it is enforcing yet another form of censorship and that is the last thing we need. CITC is already doing a great job at it that I find myself occasionally amazed by how dedicated they are to this job,” he wrote.