Daily Israel Report

Fears of Muslim Violence Inactivates Web Site

In an apparent case of Islamic internet censorship, the world's largest website name registrar is blocking access to an anti-Islam site.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/24/2008, 2:32 PM

The world's largest website name registrar, Network Solutions, is blocking web surfers from accessing an anti-Islam site - prompting concerns that fear of Islamic violence has become so powerful that it even controls WWW content.

Network Solutions developed the domain name registration system in 1993 and was the world's only domain name provider until 1999, when the domain name industry opened up to competition.  Today, the company hosts seven million domain names.  The Washington Post reports that Network Solutions is now, for the first time, blocking access to a site that has not yet put up any substantial content. 

The site in question is owned by a Dutch politician, Geert Wilders,  who is known for his opposition to Muslim immigrants and the Koran.  Wilders has said that he planned to post a short anti-Koran film on the site, named fitnathemovie.com.  Wilders hopes to rally support for banning the Koran in Holland, explaining that the book urges followers to commit acts of violence.

A Network Solutions spokeswoman told the Washington Post that the site was blocked on Saturday night "due to the potential unrest that could follow if Wilders followed through on his pledge to post his film on the site."  She said the company was still investigating whether the site violated its "acceptable use policy."

The inaccessible site contained, before it was shut down, only a picture of a gilded Koran along with the text "Allahu Akhbar" (Allah is Great), and the words "Geert Wilders presents Fitna - Coming Soon."

Fears of Moslem Violence in the Wake of the Movie
The decision by Network Solutions followed warnings and threats that the movie could lead to pro-Moslem violence.  Earlier this month, for instance, NATO's secretary general expressed his concern that the Wilders movie could foment anger and added danger for Western troops in Afghanistan. Protests were held in Afghanistan against the Wilders film.  In addition, Dutch television stations refused to air the movie. 

Possibly even more telling was the fact that though no "specific threats" had been received by Network Solutions, the company reminded its employees this week about observing regular physical safety and security measures at work.

The Post reported that Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation - an organization that aims to champion free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights in digital and electronic issues - said it was the first case he'd heard of in which a U.S.-based registrar had preemptively suspended a domain name for violating its use policy. He admitted, however, that Network Solutions was within its legal rights in doing so.

Wilders has said that his movie is a "last warning for the West," and that "if need be, I will personally distribute DVDs in the Dam [central square in Amsterdam]."  He has also warned of a "tsunami of Islamisation" in Holland, and is under heavy guard due to Islamic death threats.