Saudis Fight Pope Benedict Over Future of the Internet

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Saudis Fight Pope Benedict Over Future of the Internet

Saudis Aim– Perhaps Unsuccessfully– to Challenge Hegemony in Religious Affairs. Dcn Joseph Suaiden.

The Saudi government has submitted over 200 protests to ICANN challenging proposed new top-level domains such as “.catholic” and “.islam” as well as over a hundred others, according to ICANN’s Top Level Domain Application Process System.

In a surprise move, the Saudis are attempting to block the Vatican’s entry for a top level domain for fear that other groups, such as the Orthodox, will effectively be neglected although they use the term “Catholic”. Likewise, the Saudis proposed a blockage of a number of Islamic terms, indicating that they did not want to allow the granting of control to specific groups.

In their complaint about “.catholic”, the Saudis stated: “We do not believe that the applied-for gTLD string (.catholic) should be under the control of one church which cannot, and does not, represent every catholic communion.

Further, we believe that any and all gTLD applications for any name in relation to religion or a specific community should be presented to the whole of that community for evaluation before an application is denied or granted. If this cannot be accomplished then such names should be restricted completely from being used as gTLD’s.”

In their complaint concerning “.islam” they wrote: Approximately 50 countries are Muslim-majority. With over 1.5 to 2 billion followers amounting to approximately 25% of the earth’s population, Islam is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world

The applicant, as a private company, does not and in fact cannot represent the whole or even a majority of the worldwide Muslim community.

Further, we believe that any and all gTLD applications for any name in relation to religion or a specific community should be presented to representative members of that community for evaluation and the view of such members should be taken into account when granting or denying the application.

The Saudi government has now also submitted complaints concerning “.baby” (for fear of its potential use by pornographers), “.gay” (because it will offend countries where homosexuality is condemned), and “.pub” (presumably because it promotes alcohol usage).

Unfortunately, the registered complaints will apparently make little difference. Since the fee has been paid, the new domains will still go live next year.