Saudi Arabia’s Department of Public Prosecution will now have the “powers to charge offenders who are accused of spreading hate speech, creating social conflict and threatening peace and security through social media channels,” according to a Bloomberg story, which cited a government statement.
The statement accompanied the “summoning” of social media users who were “called in” but the government did not disclose details on the number of indicted or who was indicted. According to Bloomberg, the Government warned that “any post that contains content harmful to the community” would be referred to the prosecutor.
According to a CNN report, Saudi Arabia’s spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Information Hani Al Ghufaily tweeted ahead of the statement that radical Sunni cleric Ali Al Rabieei had been summoned to the “committee for publication crimes.”
The move comes as at least two web hosting companies, Google and GoDaddy, have banned the use of their services to white supremacy hate websites in the United States, following a weekend of racial conflict in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia.
As Bloomberg reports, the use of derogatory language to describe minority Shiite Muslims, Jews and Christians is common among some Saudi religious clerics and social media users. Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni, and does not allow for guaranteed citizenship by birth.