8 maart 2006

German Website Shut Down Because Of Publication Muhammad Cartoons (Law & Justice)

The German website http://www.euroislam.info/ is shut down because it published the Muhammad cartoons. The first page can still be found in Google's cache. The owner of the website apparently received an e-mail (original in German) from his Internet service provider Neue Medien M√ľnnich, stating that the website is shut down immediately and without giving a period of notice.

The service provider motivates the closing down of his customer's website by referring to complaints he received from third parties and his legal obligations as an Internet service provider, but he also adds:

"The complaints we received were decisive [for shutting down your site], and also the fact that people are dying elsewhere because of the Muhammad cartoons alone. One is allowed to defend strict points of view regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press. We wonder however whether we should contribute to the fact that a fire is kindled as the result of an exchange of views. We don't think so."

It is not the first time a site is shut down because of the publication of the Muhammad cartoons (see them here, halfway down the page). The Swedish government has also shut down a website because of the same reason.

This German case is different because it isn't shut down by an initiative of a government but because the Internet service provider received complaints, although it is not specified from whom or when or what the exact contents of these complaints might be. It isn't clear why the whole website has to be shut down and why e.g. a mere removal of some texts or pictures isn't sufficient.

Another - separate - reason why euroislam.info is shut down is apparently because the Internet service provider himself doesn't agree with the contents of the website of its customer euroislam.info. He isn't only referring to his legal obligations as a service provider under the German legislation, but he specifically adds a motivation of its own: "People are dying because of the Muhammad cartoons alone"!

This last element is a very strange reaction, certainly in the light of the fact that the German mainstream media also published the Muhammad cartoons, just as a lot of other European newspapers did. The German paper Die Welt has published one of the cartoons. The Berliner Zeitung also reprinted two cartoons as part of its coverage of the cartoon controversy. The German association of professional journalist (DJV) supported the reprinting of the Muhammad cartoons in German newspapers as an essential element of the freedom of expression.

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