The Christian Democrat CDA and the right-wing Freedom Party want Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to ask the Saudi ambassador for clarification about his country’s decision to block the websites of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
People attempting to visit the site are presented with a message stating that the website has been blocked. The message includes a link to the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC), where unblocking requests can be made. It is unlikely that many web users click on the link as it could lead to an unwanted 'courtesy call' from the authorities.
In parliament, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders wanted to know whether Minister Rosenthal was willing to give the Saudi ambassador “a talking to” about the blockade. He also asked whether the Dutch embassy in Riyadh would issue a statement rejecting the Saudi measure. The Freedom Party has called for international action against this form of internet censorship.
The Saudi measure comes after the publication of a video showing a migrant being beaten up in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, RNW exposed the dismal working conditions of domestic staff at the Saudi Embassy in The Hague.
Deputy Editor in Chief Ardi Bouwers said "However balanced our reporting may be, apparently it occasionally touches a raw nerve with the Saudi authorities." She said it was rare for such a government measure to be rescinded.
The Arab world is closely monitoring Radio Netherlands Worldwide. A recent interview with Syrian human rights activist Haitham Maleh, who has been awarded a major Dutch human rights medal (Geuzenpenning), led to numerous reactions from the Arab world, including many from Syria's secret service. Their reactions were conspicuous because of the remarkable level of praise for President Assad's regime, expressed in identical words and phrases across the messages.
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