A “New Era” in the Middle East?

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In February, Syrian authorities repealed bans on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The fact that Facebook was widely used in recent disorders in Tunisia and Egypt didn’t stop Syrian officials. 

Though Facebook had been blocked in Syria since the end of 2007, young Syrians have been using free web proxies allowing them to go around firewalls and traded them. The government strictly controls this market to prevent any kind of undesirable activities. Yet the president and first lady are already registered in Facebook, as well as other officials. 

Syria’s governing party remains stable, having been in power since 1963. The wake of regional unrest hasn’t influenced much the situation in Syria. But its president has already promised to force reforms to meet a “new era” in the Middle East.

Syrians have an ambiguous position regarding the loosening of restrictions. The government has a wide control over freedom of expression in the country. According to Reporters without Borders, Syria ranks a lowly 172th, out of 178 countries, for press freedom. Many websites, popular in the rest of the world, remain blocked.  


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