The conservative British-based news and opinion website—The Commentator—first drew attention to the disruption on Tuesday in a report headlined: Has Saudi Arabia blocked the Jerusalem Post? The article wrote a “A lecturer from Saudi Arabia has claimed that the country is blocking access to the Jerusalem Post website.”
The prominent Saudi blogger and journalist Ahmed Al Omran confirmed on his Twitter feed that the Post website “is blocked,” whilst Haaretz and Ynet are both accessible.
The writer of the Commentator article Ahmed Abdel-Raheem is an Egyptian artist and a PhD student who works as a lecturer at Al-Lith College for Girls, Um Al-Qura University, Saudi Arabia, according to his byline on the website of the Commentator.
He wrote, “Over the past week I have tried to access the website of the newspaper the Jerusalem Post, but every time I click the link of the paper, I have received the message: ‘Sorry, the requested page is unavailable.'”
It remains unclear why the Saudi government banned access to the Post’s website. Sara Miller, the managing Editor of Jpost.com, said: “Since the start of May, there has been an almost 100-percent drop in the number of visits to jpost.com from Saudi Arabia.
Up until April 30, we were getting hundreds of visits from Saudi Arabia every day, and now it is less than 10. There is clearly a demand for news from the Jerusalem Post, and it is a shame that the Saudi regime is proving yet again that it is determined to stifle freedom of thought and expression among its own population.”
Speaking with the Post from London by telephone, Raheem Kassam, the executive editor of The Commentator, said the “Saudis might have kept their eye on the Post for a while and it reached a tipping point.”
He added there have been a lot of stories critical of Saudi Arabia, including reports about the coronavirus affecting the Saudi population.
Kassam said the Jpost stories are “more in depth” about Saudi human rights abuses and the virus and that might be an element to the Saudis interest in blocking access to the Post’s website. “The Gulf countries want to control reporting” about coronavirus and cannot do that with non-Saudi publications in the Middle East, said Kassam.
Post calls and emails to the Saudi Embassy in Berlin and Washington D.C. were not immediately returned.
Ahmed Abdel-Raheem , the writer of the Commentator article, added that “Thinking that there would be a problem with my network or laptop, I tried to surf the news outlet from other networks and laptops, but there was no hope. In the end, I became very sure that the website had been blocked.”
Kassam, the executive editor of The Commentator, said Abdel-Raheem has written for the website “from afar” in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.