Saudi Arabia opposes .gay, .islam domain names

Saudi Arabia has attempted to block a Vatican bid to create new web addresses ending in .catholic.

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has attempted to block a Vatican bid to create new web addresses ending in .catholic, arguing that it “cannot demonstrate that it possesses a monopoly over the term ‘Catholic’”.

The objection has been sent by the Saudis to ICANN, the body in charge of web addresses, over its plan to allow hundreds of new “top-level domains” to supplement .com, and other existing suffixes.

“Many other Christians use the term ‘Catholic’ to refer more broadly to the whole Christian Church regardless of denominational affiliation,” The Telegraph quoted the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission, as saying, in its complaint.

“Other Christian communions lay claim to the term ‘Catholic’ such as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church,” the complaint added. “Therefore, we respectfully request that ICANN not award this,” the report quoted the complaint, as saying.

According to the report, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communication, which already controls .va, paid a USD 185,000 fee in a bid to create .catholic earlier this year, saying it was ‘a recognition of how important the digital space is for the church’.

The Saudi Government, under the control of the royal family, added that it objected to any group being put in charge of web addresses based on religious terms. It complained about bids to create top-level domains for .islam, .halal and .ummah on similar grounds. The kingdom also made moral complaints about an array of planned new suffixes.

“Pornography undermines gender equality and threatens public morals by objectifying and exploiting women,” the Saudi Government said. It objected to .gay because it “will be offensive” to societies where homosexuality is “contrary to their culture, morality or religion”, to .tattoo as tattooing is prohibited in Islam and Judaism and to .bar on grounds that because of its association with alcohol the term “promotes activities that can be detrimental to public order and morals”.