‘Offensive’ e-papers face closure in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi ministry of culture and information deals with e-newspapers according to “responsible freedom” principals, said the ministry’s spokesman

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The Ministry of Culture and Information said electronic newspapers that contain offensive content would be shut down, Al-Eqtisadiah daily reported.

The ministry's spokesman, Abdulaziz al-Melhem, said e-newspapers that publish offensive material about Islam, the country, or traditions would be taken offline.

He pointed out the ministry supports e-newspapers and deals with them according to the principles of "responsible freedom." "All newspapers are responsible for what they publish and should verify the validity of published information," he said.

The ministry has closed 41 e-newspapers for violating regulations and practicing their business without official permission from the ministry.

Al-Melhem assured the ministry was not an obstacle to any e-newspaper that was committed to publishing correct information and refrained from publishing false information that was offensive and abusive.

"The ministry grants a three-year e-publishing license to any Saudi citizen who is at least 20 and carries at least a secondary education certificate," he said. He noted any e-newspaper has to assign an editor-in-chief who should be approved by the ministry and has to have a name that is not used by or could lead to a mixup with other titles.

Al-Melhem explained the editor-in-chief is responsible for the newspaper’s contents and if he were not available then the reporter or writer would be held accountable.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.

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