If ICANN decides to reject Asia Green IT’s applications for .islam and .halal it would “be dealing a blow to the new gTLD program’s credibility”, according to AGIT.
The two potential new gTLDs are currently in limbo, awaiting a decision by the ICANN’s board of directors’ New gTLD Program Committee, following stalemate within the Governmental Advisory Committee.
The Organization for Islamic Cooperation has objected to the applications, saying it represents 1.6 billion Muslims and that it’s “concerned” about the potential “misuse” of the names.
Mehdi Abbasnia, managing director of the Turkey-based company, recently wrote to ICANN too (pdf) to ask that ICANN speedily approve its applications, given that two formal OIC-backed Community Objections have already failed.
Abbasnia also wrote to DI on Friday (pdf) to reiterate many of the same points.
The two gTLDs are among only a handful originating it the Muslim world, he said, and the idea is to spur adoption of domain names among all Muslims.
Muslim communities the world over have a lot to gain from seeing their members empowered through namespaces that are better suited to their specific needs, easier for them to relate to and use and respectful of their culture and laws.
As Muslims ourselves, this is what we felt we could bring to our community when we first heard of the new gTLD program: our expertise as a technical enabler of TLDs by Muslims, for Muslims. We are looking to fuel the engine, not drive the car.
He added that AGIT prevailed in the objections filed against it, and the GAC failed to reach a consensus to object.
Some in ICANN circles have used the phrase “taking a second bite at the apple” to characterize attempts to overturn decisions and derail processes. In the case of our applications for .Halal and .Islam, the apple’s been eaten to the core!
The ball is now in the ICANN Board’s court. If it bows to the OIC’s pressure and blocks our TLD applications, not only will Muslims the world over be prevented from claiming their very own space on the Internet, but I believe it will also be dealing a blow to the new gTLD program’s credibility, and to the credibility of ICANN as a multi-stakeholder governance organization.
While I have no opinion on whether the two applications should be approved or not, I disagree with the apple metaphor.
AGIT is in receipt of formal “GAC Advice on New gTLDs” explaining a non-consensus objection. That’s clearly envisaged by the Applicant Guidebook, and there a process for dealing with it: ICANN’s board talks to the GAC to understand the extent of its members’ concerns and then explains itself after it makes a decision one way or the other.
There doesn’t seem to be an abuse of process by the OIC or GAC here, just a very tricky question for the ICANN board to answer.