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Alkasir is a program developed by Yemeni software developer Walid al-Saqaf, that allows users to circumvent censorship in countries that censor internet content.[1] Al-Saqaf is the son of a Yemeni investigative journalist who died under what The Guardian called "mysterious circumstances" and who had set up a website on news about Yemen while he was earning a PhD in Sweden[2] He created Alkasir when the government blocked access to the site using Websense.[3][4][5]

Alkasir was launched in 2009[3] with the newest version containing an internal browser, added in May 2010, with updates often being released. Alkasir is free to download and to use.[6] The word "alkasir" means circumventor in Arabic.[7]

Governments around the world, most notably in China and in the Middle East, use censorship to block access to various websites. With the rise of social networking sites and the use of these sites to organize political movements against the repressive regimes in power, such as the Arab Spring, Middle Eastern governments have implemented Western tools to censor the internet.[8]

Alkasir's site also contains a map[9] that tracks the use of its software to gain access to particular URLs. The more people using the software to access a particular site, such as Facebook, the more likely it is blocked by the people's country.

As of 2012, the Arab country with the highest number of Alkasir users was Syria and the software received over a hundred thousand reports of blocked URLs.[10]

Walid al-Saqaf was selected as a TED fellow in 2010 for the development of Alkasir.[11] He was also selected as a TED 2012 senior fellow.[12]


  1. ^ "About Alkasir". Retrieved 2016-03-14. 
  2. ^ Krotoski, Aleks (28 November 2010). "The internet's cyber radicals: heroes of the web changing the world". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ a b "Yemeni Journalist Offers Facebook and Twitter Access, Piercing Government Blocks". 2011-02-25. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  4. ^ Dwyer, Jim (2015). More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys, Three Years, and a Chronicle of Ideals and Ambition in Silicon Valley. Penguin Publishing Group. pp. 81–82. ISBN 9780143127895. 
  5. ^ Hudson, John (March 28, 2011). "Meet the U.S. Companies Helping Censor the Arab Web". The Atlantic. 
  6. ^ Esra'a (Bahrain). "Alkasir v1.2.0 launched with internal browser to circumvent censorship". Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  7. ^ "Founder Awarded TED Fellowship for anti-Censorship Efforts". alkasir. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  8. ^ Sonne, Paul (2011-03-27). "U.S. Products Help Block Mideast Web". Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  9. ^ "Cyber-Censorship Map (dynamically generated)". alkasir. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  10. ^ Diamond, Larry; Plattner, Marc, eds. (2012). Liberation technology: Social media and the struggle for democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 1421405687. 
  11. ^ "Meet the TED Fellows". Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  12. ^ "Meet the TED 2012 Fellows". 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 

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