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January 03 2012

August 02 2011

Morocco: Militant Website Sustains DDoS Attack

The Moroccan militant website Mamfakinch! has come under a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack this Sunday blocking the access to its main platform for several hours. The website is now back online. What is Mamfakinch! and why has it been attacked?

Mamfakinch!

In the wake of the Arab revolutions, a couple of Moroccan online activists launched a militant website on February 17, 2011. They called it Mamfakinch!, which in Moroccan Arabic means “We won't give up!”.

In its 6 months of existence Mamfakinch! has attracted a record audience of over a million unique visitors across its two main outlets which comprise an online news portal and a blog. The site's goal, according to its members, is to provide a platform for free expression for opposition voices and pro-democracy activists.

Against the backdrop of the Arab revolutions, Mamfakinch! set about to aggregate, curate and disseminate citizen media material, emulating the work of similar outlets in the region, notably the celebrated Tunisian news portal Nawaat.org.

But as Mamfakinch! readers and supporters grew in number, so has its detractors. “The website has gained a lot of popularity in the Moroccan activist blogosphere but we had also attracted a lot of enemies. Attacks against the website have started very early on but they are becoming increasingly aggressive” says this site's co-manager who also explains that the platform is receiving regular threats and countless derogatory comments.

One video recently surfaced on the internet purporting to show an attack against Mamfakinch!. The site was quick to publish an article [Fr] in which it (very sarcastically) dismissed the alleged attack as “a miserable spoof”.

The Attack

This Sunday, while the website was securing the exclusive live coverage of the pro-democracy marches and demonstrations held across the kingdom, access to its main portal was denied. The blockade lasted for several hours before the site was again accessible late in the evening.

According to the site administrators, Mamfakinch! came under a large-scale DDoS attack. “The attack seems to originate from thousands of dynamic IPs localted in Saudi Arabia (!)” says the website's webmaster. The site's server has, in the matter of a few hours, became overloaded with the amount of new automated IPs' requests.

“The site is now up and running and we have taken measures to insure that such attacks don't happen in the future… although no one can be absolutely sure” says this co-founder of the site who adds that his colleagues, “for obvious security reasons, prefer not to disclose details of the steps taken to secure access to the site.”

Like in Ben Ali's Tunisia

Before the revolution in Tunisia, Morocco was praised for the relative freedom enjoyed by its internet users. But the country knows now a surge in attacks against online dissidents, several of whom have had their Facebook or email accounts hacked into. Phishing techniques were probably used by usurpers to harvest those accounts' passwords.

DDoS attacks, infiltration techniques and blockage of dissident domain names were common during the Ben Ali era in Tunisia. Those types of attacks are increasingly becoming common place in Morocco. The site of the irreverent magazine Demain Online has not yet recovered from an attack it suffered over a month ago. The website 20Fevrier.com, believed to be related to the pro-democracy movement in Morocco, also came under attack several weeks ago. It has been offline ever since.

“The more they attacks us, the more we learn!”

Paradoxically, in the Arab world, the most experienced activists usually come from the most repressive environments. After a long confrontation with their governments, Tunisian and Egyptian activists have become experts in circumvention tools. This expertise is now being transferred to other countries in the region where militants are learning each day as they struggle against attempts to censor their voices online. This statement from a member of Mamfakinch! sums up the situation quite well: “The more they attacks us, the more we learn! Let them come!”

February 23 2011

Saudi Arabia: The Return of King Abdullah

Written by Haifa Alrasheed

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz returned home after a three month period abroad for medical treatment. His treatment started in New York-Presbyterian Hospital, followed by a recovery period in Morocco.

King abdullah as he appeared on saudi tv upon his arrival (by @waa3ad)

King Abdullah as he appeared on Saudi TV upon his arrival (by @waa3ad)

Saudis were expecting serious reforms on both the political and economical aspects. Today, and coinciding with the King stepping out of the plane, new reforms were announced. However, the changes were disappointing for most Saudis, as most of them were minor and did not include a large number of the population.

It's Just Not Enough!

Below are some reactions the disappointed citizens:

@alghamdi_R
يا ترى هل يحتفل الآن بعودته من كان لديه أب أو أخ أو قريب مسجون من غير تهمة ولا محاكمة ؟! ، #saudimataleb الفرح جيد ، ولكن العدل مطلوب أيضا
Celebration is good, but fairness is required too. I wonder if the ones who have a father or a brother or a relative imprisoned without charge or trial are celebrating his return?!
@essamz
نتمنى أن تكون الأوامر الملكية المعلنة اليوم مجرد أوامر قديمة متراكمة تنتظر عودة الملك. وأن هناك إصلاحات حقيقية ستعلن قريبا #saudimataleb
We hope that the new reforms are old cluttered ones, and that the new real ones will be announced soon.
@mothaqf
أتمنى ممن أراد أن يهنئ الملك بسلامته بإعلان في جريدة -لن يراه الملك- أن يتصدق عنه بكفالة أسر فقيرة بذات القيمة فهي أنفع #saudi #saudimataleb
I hope those who wanted to congratulate the King on his recovery in the newspaper - which will not be read by the king - donate the money they paid for advertisements to charity for poor families as that is more beneficial
@abualkhair
#saudimataleb وبمناسبة عودة الملك والمكرمات الملكية ثم البيانات المطلبية أطاب د.عائض القرني بصرف كتاب لا تحزن مجانا لكل مواطن سعودي
On this occasion and after the announcement of the new reforms, I ask Dr. Aydh Alqarni to give away a copy of his book “Don't Be Sad” to every Saudi citizen

Regardless… We're Happy He's Back!

On the other hand, many Saudis were happy that the king is back. To mark the occasion, the streets of Riyadh, the capital, were decorated with banners and flags wishing the king good health and welcoming him back. Moreover, many Saudis went to the airport to cheer and welcome him back in person. Celebrations were all over Riyadh, and in the sky there were army jets performing for the crowd. Television presenters wore special scarves in the colours of the Saudi flag in a special coverage programme entitled “The Joy of a Nation” to mark the king's return. Below some reactions of the Saudis on Twitter:

@BeeTaz
#kingabdullah #saudiarabia aaalffff 7amdellah 3al salama ♡ http://plixi.com/p/79417396
Welcome back!

@waa3ad
ADORE Him :”( #KINGABDULLAH http://yfrog.com/hsofncyj

@SaudiiAmerican
7mdelilah 3slaama ya #KingAbdullah, and thank you for everything. N7bk :)

Welcome back King Abdullah, and Thank you for everything, we love you!

In this video, oeziiL shares pictures of the king's arrival and celebrations around Riyadh:

@LaylaAJ_
​والله يبو متعب لو غيابك أطول خذنا السعوديه بيدها وجيناك #OnlyinSaudiArabia #KSA #kingabdullah
If you stayed longer, we would've taken the kingdom by its hand to you.

@Sarah_AlAyed
#KingAbdullah return energized ppl across KSA Bless him looking 4ward 2much awaited developments alf hamdlilah 3ala salamt (thank God for the safety of the) Father of Nation

@NouraAgeel
الشعوب تحرق انفسها لرحيل رئيسها نحن احترقت قلوبنا شوقاً لعودة مليكنا الله يحفظك لنا #kingabdullah

Nations burn themselves for the demise of their presidents, however we had our hearts burned because you were away for too long. May Allah keep you well.

Here's another clip of King Abdullah's return from YouTube user iJihadTv:

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