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Malaysia cracks down on bloggers

ICC Note: Malaysia continues its movement toward implementing Sharia law as it is threatening to use anti-terror laws on anyone who insults Islam.

7/26/07 Malaysia (BBC) – The Malaysian government has warned it could use tough anti-terrorism laws against bloggers who insult Islam or the country’s king…

The new rules would allow a suspect to be detained indefinitely, without being charged or put on trial.

But officials insist the law is not intended to strangle internet freedom.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak told The Straits Times that the move was aimed at getting some moderation in postings on the internet, especially on sensitive issues: “Some people feel that they have crossed the line, in making racist remarks,” he said.

But the BBC’s Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says the government also appears increasingly concerned about the growing online criticism of its record.

Raja Petra Kamarudin, the editor of one of Malaysia’s most popular political websites, Malaysia Today, turned himself in to police on Wednesday, to answer allegations that he had mocked Islam and threatened racial harmony…

“I was alleged to have insulted the king, and also Islam and incite racial hatred, so I am going in there to reply to all these charges. I promise I’m going to give them a hell of a tough time,” he told the BBC before he turned himself in.

He defended his website, saying: “Many people, especially the non-Malays in this country, do not have a forum to air their views…”

The BBC’s correspondent says that with a general election on the horizon, the government seems keen to send a signal to its online critics that it will only tolerate so much.

(Full story)