Senegal, a West African country which is hardly in the news for political unrest, has restricted social media apps after an opposition protest was disrupted by the police. The protests began when Ousmane Sonko, Senegal’s leading opposition figure was arrested on Wednesday. 

Although the 46-year-old leader of the Pastef party was arrested for disturbing public peace; at the heart of the arrest is an allegation of rape. In February, Sonko was accused of rape by an employee at a beauty salon, but he says the charges are politically motivated. 

On Friday, Senegal’s parliament voted to strip him of immunity so he could face those charges. But ahead of his court appearance on Thursday, hundreds of his supporters followed his motorcade, chanting and reportedly threw stones at policemen. AFP reports that police responded with teargas and stun grenades. 

One person was killed during the scuffle with police while four others were injured in what many are calling the worst unrest the country has seen in years. The government’s response to the unrest has been to restrict the country’s digital access to social media. Senegal’s move is similar to Ethiopia’s decision to shut down the internet two years ago. 

Social media blackout in Senegal 

According to NetBlocks, an organization which maps internet disruption in real time all over the world; Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp and Telegram CDN servers have been disrupted.

According to NetBlocks, “data show that CDN backend servers have been targeted, effectively limiting the sharing of photo and video content online. VPN services are effective at circumventing the restrictions at present.”

“The incident follows a decision the previous day from the National Audiovisual Regulatory Council (CNRA) to suspend two television stations over their coverage of the protests.”

How Senegalese citizens are responding 

On Twitter, citizens are using the #FreeSenegal hashtag to draw attention to the situation, asking global figures to use the hashtag and help circumvent media silence. At the time of writing this article, the hashtag has been used 113,000 times and it is number one on Twitter’s Trends list.

Reports from Sonko’s attorneys confirmed that his court hearing has been postponed to Friday as authorities continue to insist that they are acting within the law. 

Read this next

Spotify, the Swedish audio streaming service that is home to over 50 million songs and over 2 million podcasts, is finally available in several African countries. The announcement was made by Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek, during the company’s Stream On event on the 22nd of February. Prior to this, the platform was only available in […]

More From TC

Social media giant, Twitter is setting up its first African office and it will be in Ghana. The announcement was made through a tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey where he thanked the president of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo. The tweet also included a link to a post on Twitter’s official blog written by Kayvon Beykpour, […]

The directive of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued on the 8th of April, 2021 has been met with consternation and a straightforward (but hopefully simplistic) interpretation that the government is out to stifle innovators – again. These perspectives aren’t unfounded, as innovators of all shades have taken a heavy beating lately due […]

Last week, Ampersand, Africa’s first electric motorcycle company, secured a $3.5 million investment from the Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF). This is the largest ever e-mobility investment by a venture capital fund in Sub-Saharan Africa and could hint at a turning point in African electric transport. Based in Kigali, Rwanda, Ampersand assembles and finances electric motorcycles […]

TechCabal is a Big Cabal Media brand

Copyright © 2013 - 2021
All rights reserved

Privacy & Terms