Sri Lanka minister slams Facebook over ‘censorship’

Sri Lanka People’s Party presidential election candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. (Reuters)
Updated 12 November 2019

Sri Lanka minister slams Facebook over ‘censorship’

COLOMBO: A senior Sri Lankan minister accused social media giant Facebook on Monday of censoring comments he made questioning the citizenship of presidential election frontrunner Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

The nationality of Rajapaksa, brother of former strongman president Mahinda, is a key issue ahead of voting Saturday as Sri Lankan law prohibits
dual citizens from holding elected office.

Communications Minister Harin Fernando asked in a Facebook post on his official ministry page Sunday whether Rajapaksa should be allowed to stand, suggesting he was still a US national.

“Is Mr. Rajapaksa legally able to contest at a Presidential election in Sri Lanka?” Fernando asked in the now-deleted post.

“If elected, will he able to take oaths and discharge the duties of the office?“

Gotabhaya became a US citizen in 2003, giving up his Sri Lanka passport after migrating to Los Angeles following a 20-year military career.

BACKGROUND

Last month, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said it would not censor political speech.

He returned to Colombo in 2005, when he says he reclaimed Sri Lankan citizenship and was appointed defense secretary in his brother’s administration.

Gotabhaya insists he renounced US citizenship in May this year.

Fernando said Facebook took down the post from his official ministry page on Sunday, and he repeated the allegations on Twitter while complaining he had been censored.

The same post was still visible on his private Facebook page, however, including a screenshot of what he claimed was Rajapaksa’s US passport.

“American companies shouldn’t interfere on behalf of an American contesting a SL election. I stand by my every word,”
he tweeted.

A Facebook spokesperson said they routinely took down any posts containing personal or confidential information.

“We remove this content whenever we become aware of it,” the company told AFP.

Last month, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said it would not censor political speech.

“I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100 percent true,” he said.

Rajapaksa’s nationality is also the subject of a police investigation, but the next court hearing will only be held after the election.

If he wins the vote he would be immune from prosecution during his term.

Social media has been abuzz with speculation about Rajapaksa’s citizenship, while a copy of a purportedly canceled US passport shown by his lawyers has been challenged as fake.

The US embassy in Colombo has declined to comment on the issue.

Rajapaksa and current housing minister Sajith Premadasa, are the leading candidates in a field of 35 contesting Saturday’s election.


Homegrown Saudi show ‘Takki’ now on Netflix

Updated 09 July 2020

Homegrown Saudi show ‘Takki’ now on Netflix

  • Saudi series provides insight into the life of a generation caught between conservatism and modernism

Webedia Arabia Group, a media and technology company developing strategic, insight-driven, culturally led and creative content for Arab consumers, has announced Netflix’s licensing of the popular Saudi drama series “Takki,” which is now available for viewing on the platform.

Produced by UTURN, which is part of Webedia Arabia Group, the series follows the story of a young Saudi film director and reflects the different facets of Saudi society, including the social challenges faced by its youth. The homegrown Saudi series, written and produced by Mohammed (Anggy) Makki, provides insight into the life of a generation caught between conservatism and modernism.

Kaswara Al-Khatib, chairman of the board at Webedia Arabia Group and founder of UTURN, continues to nurture Saudi talent and propel the industry forward by drawing international recognition. The licensing of “Takki” by Netflix reflects the interest for hyper-localized Saudi content.

“In a region that lacks content relevant to Saudi youth, localization was key. Additionally, Saudi Arabia is filled with rising stars and through UTURN, we’ve created talent pools and incubated them. This is our way of helping to reshape the future of content and Saudi digital culture. Webedia Arabia Group is now full of opportunities that are in line with the Saudi Vision 2030, and we are positioned to develop outstanding content reaching worldwide audiences,” he said.

Webedia Arabia Group CEO George Maktabi added: “In a fast-moving world and with our 63 million Arab users, we are constantly combining the right narrative with insightful data, bridging the gap between audiences and broadcasters by engaging viewers in topics they are passionate about and giving them a space to express their creativity.”

As part of the Kingdom’s transformational era in promoting culture and entertainment, UTURN by Webedia Arabia Group continues to foster the talent of Saudi youth with several new projects in the pipeline.

Both seasons of “Takki” are now available on Netflix.