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Malaysian government cracks down on bloggers

31 July, 2007
By Allison Orr

According to a BBC report, the Malaysian government may use anti-terrorism laws to crack down on bloggers who insult Islam or the country’s king.  Officials insist that the law is not intended to stifle Internet freedom, and is to merely bring about some moderation in Internet postings, but there is some evidence that the government appears concerned about online criticism. 

Recently a leading online commentator has been questioned by police after a complaint by the governing party.  Raja Petra turned himself in to the police to answer questions that he mocked Islam and threatened racial harmony.  He is editor of one of Malaysia’s most popular political websites, Malaysia Today.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Raja Petra was held in custody for eight hours, and questioned primarily about comments readers had posted on his website.  The journalist and commentator is concerned that comments posted on his website but not written by him may find him charged under Malaysia’s Sedition Act, which leaves many offences such as sedition vague, but punishable by three years in prison and fines.

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