*** United Arab Emirates ***
(1) private entity control over sensitive name
“Halal (Arabic: ﺣﻼل halāl, "permissible") is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law.
Religious terms and subjects are very sensitive areas. The applicant is a commercial entity. Strict boundaries, measures and policies must be set to ensure that applicant business activities do not conflict with the religion objectives, principles, beliefs and laws. Therefore any religious terms must be only applied as a gTLD by a government or not-for-profit organization acting on behalf of that community as oppose to a private entity. It is unacceptable for a private entity to have control over religious terms such as Halal without significant support and affiliation with the community its targeting.
(2) Insufficient community support.
The application targets a specific community of those interested in Halal products and producers supporting Halal products. This covers wide range of community covering over 50 countries where significant Halal products are produced and consumed (over 1.6 Billion populations). The applicant has presented couple of letter of supports from organizations mostly associated with one country. The support letters presented by the applicant constitute a minority (less than 5% of the community) hence it clearly does not constitute as a sufficient community support.
If there is lack of support from the community to this application then it will most probably be dominated by subgroup from the religion and will ignore the interests of the remaining majority. This will adversely affect the interest of the community to register in the TLD and therefore limit its growth.
Furthermore there is lack of information regarding background and affiliation of the applicant and its leader. In all cases they will not represent the entire Muslim community and hence the support of community is an essential prerequisite and must be in a form of letter from known NGOs and inter-governmental organizations that do represent majority of the community such as the IOC.
(3) Sensitivity of the name and domain name use policy
Religious topics such as Halal are extremely sensitive subject. Within religions there are different sub groups and sects who may have many differences and diversities. It is very difficult task to unite all of these differences under one TLD unless it is run and supported by an organization that represents the community or its majority. There are many organizations that do represent significant parts of the community and it is vital that those organizations endorse and support this application.
As with all religious terms, Halal is closely associated with Islamic law. Anything that would conflict with Islamic law would be unacceptable for the followers and believers of Islam (hence the community) in general which naturally brings issue of registration and use policies. A very important question must be raised as to how the applicant will ensure that the use of the domain name is in line with Islamic Law and Halal principles? These issues will be eliminated if this TLD is supported and supervised by an IGO which represents majority of the community. Furthermore, the application lacks any sort of protection to ensure that the use of the domain names registered under the applied for new gTLD are in line with Islam laws and Halal principles. There are no clear mechanisms to prevent any abuses related to the above.
For the above reasons, the TRA on behalf of the government of UAE would like to raise its disapproval and non-endorsement to this application and request the ICANN and the new gTLD program evaluators to not approve this application.
*** India ***
India is a secular country and the grant of this extension has to be proceeded with stringent preverification. The term halal is associated with Muslim community and carries with it a lot of sensibility.
The capture of such a term online needs to ensure that sufficient check and balance are put in place to prevent its misuse. Unrestricted use of the extension is likely to increase the possibility of hurting religious sentiments leading to the social unrest. Also as per the Indian Trade Mark Law any term likely to hurt religions susceptibilities of any class or section of the citizens of India should not be registered the trade mark.
In addition, the designation of food as “Halal” must conform to strict regulations and rules that govern this area in India. The applicant must demonstrate how they will conform to such rules, and must submit an undertaking that only verified registrants with documentation determining that they are certified to carry Halal food will be allowed to register names.
Therefore pre verifications along with required anti abuse policy must be put in place before this gTLD extension is granted.