IRLA Applauds Secretary Clinton’s Speech on Internet Freedom

Religious Freedom a Casualty of Growing Information Curtain

21 January 2010, Washington, DC—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a major policy speech on internet freedom in Washington today in which she warned, “With the spread of…restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world.” She identified religious freedom as one of the casualties of this growing information curtain. Secretary Clinton elaborated:

Some nations… have co-opted the internet as a tool to target and silence people of faith. Last year in Saudi Arabia, a man spent months in prison for blogging about Christianity. And a Harvard study found that the Saudi government blocked many web pages about Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and even Islam. Countries including Vietnam and China employed similar tactics to restrict access to religious information. Just as these technologies must not be used to punish peaceful political speech, they must not be used to persecute or silence religious minorities... We must work to advance the freedom of worship online just as we do in other areas of life.

“We applaud Secretary Clinton for talking openly and honestly about this serious problem,” declared James Standish, Deputy Secretary-General of the IRLA, who was among the invited guests in attendance for the speech. “The silencing of peaceful people of faith in the world’s electronic public square is an affront to the concept of universally guaranteed rights. We appreciate Secretary Clinton not only focusing attention on this violation, but her willingness to work with the NGO community to remove barriers and advance the cause of religious freedom.”