British Library Apologises after Blocking Anti-Islamist Website for 'Intolerance'

British Library Apologises after Blocking Anti-Islamist Website for 'Intolerance'

The British Library has apologised after it emerged that the website of a popular anti-Islamist author had been blocked by its web filters. 

The Library, which is funded by the British government, called the blocking of Daniel Pipes’s personal website and that of his organisation – the Middle East Forum – “erroneous”. 

Users who tried to access the site from within the grounds of the British Library were greeted with the error message, “Access to this site has been blocked by our web filtering software as it is categorised as being inappropriate for use in a public area.”

Both sites, and were blocked under the reason: “intolerance”.

But Pipes is a highly-regarded academic and author, and his careful steps to distinguish Islam and Islamism have been well noted. Pipes has appeared on Intelligence Squared debate platforms, where he has been described as “one of the world’s foremost analysts on the Middle East and Islam”.

He noted on his website on Tuesday that users within the British Library had complained that his site was blocked. Pipes wrote that if you wanted to access anti-Semitic websites such as “Jew Knowledge” or even Islamist websites such as that of British hate-preacher Anjem Choudary, you were more than welcome to do so from within the British Library. 

But the institution, which is one of the largest libraries in the world, second only to the Library of Congress, reached out to Pipes and assured him that the block was erroneous, and will now be lifted: 

Apologies for the fact that the websites you listed below were blocked by the Library’s WiFi service. … I am writing to inform you that all sites listed are now available via the Library’s WiFi.

The library’s press office also announced the end of the block on Twitter.

Pipes wrote: “How could a major British governmental agency block these high-quality mainstream, informational, sites? How could it simultaneously give access to extremist, antisemitic, radical, Islamist, and jihadi websites?”

He is said to be pursuing the matter further.