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Saudi Arabia to shut down offending websites

No attack on faith, community values to be tolerated

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Aviation and aviation-enabled tourism support 3.2 per cent of Saudi Arabia's GDP
Gulf News

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s culture and information ministry has warned online media and websites that they could be shut down if they broke the law by offending Islam, abusing people or insulting community traditions.

“We will deal decisively with all those who affront Saudi Arabia or its citizens,” Abdul Aziz Al Melham, the ministry spokesperson, said. “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 said in remarks published by local daily Al Eqtisadiya on Sunday.

The ministry supports all online news sites and deals with them based on the principle of “responsible freedom”, he added.

“Every site is responsible for what it publishes and that includes checking the information and drafting it properly before it is posted,” he said 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.

“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,” he said.

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 in the alleged irregularities and complaints, the regulations say.