Web-hosting company Rackspace has pulled down a pair of websites belonging to the Dove World Outreach Center church and the Rev. Terry Jones, who promised – and then canceled plans – to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. As of 9 p.m. on Thursday, the official Dove World site remained offline, although the cached version was still available.
Dan Goodgame, a spokesman for Rackspace, which is based in Texas, told the AFP today that Dove World had "violated the Offensive Content section of its Acceptable Use policy... As a customer of Rackspace, they agree to adhere to the policy and they didn't," Goodgame added.
According to the AFP, Goodgame pointed specifically to a clause that forbids any content that is "excessively violent, incites violence, threatens violence, or contains harassing content or hate speech; and creates a risk to a person's safety or health, creates a risk to public safety or health, compromises national security, or interferes with a investigation by law enforcement."
Jones, predictably, has lashed out at Rackspace, calling the company's decision "an indirect attack on our freedom of speech."
Over at the San Francisco Chronicle, Nick Saint thinks Jones has it wrong – Rackspace is privately owned, he points out, and is free to give Dove World the boot. But Saint isn't convinced that Rackspace acted appropriately. "There is absolutely no reason for web hosts to have an editorial policy, and this only gives Jones more attention, and makes him look more persecuted," Saint writes. "Which, after all, is exactly what the lunatic is after."
As staff writer Dan Murphy noted earlier this month, understanding why the planned Koran burning is so offensive to Muslims "means understanding the special reverence with which devout Muslims view the Koran. Muslims see it as the uninterrupted, unchangeable, and eternal word of God. Burning the Koran is akin to directly burning the word of God," Murphy wrote.