Insult Islam at your peril in Saudi Arabia
SAUDI Arabia’s culture and information ministry has warned online media and websites that they could be shut down if they offend Islam, abuse people or insult community traditions.
Abdul Aziz Al Melham, the ministry spokesperson, said:
We will deal decisively with all those who affront Saudi Arabia or its citizens. This includes targeting the Islamic faith and the Prophet, peace be upon him, as well as attacking the customs and traditions of the Saudi society and compromising the security of the homeland.
He then added some blah about “responsible freedom”. Amid reports that the ministry was shutting down 41 online news sites for failing to abide by the rules that require an official licence to go online, he said:
Every site is responsible for what it publishes and that includes checking the information and drafting it properly before it is posted.
But he gave an assurance that:
The ministry is not an obstacle to any news site or website that seeks to convey genuine news and avoid abuses or spreading false or misleading information. Shutting down a site is in application of the regulations that govern electronic publishing.
Under Saudi regulations, no pre-censorship is imposed on online news sites, but editors are held responsible for the posted content and information.
The ministry is entrusted with the accountability and investigation of the alleged irregularities and complaints, the regulations say.