By Mohammad Ben Hussein
Chief editors of the two weekly tabloids, Shihan and Al Mihwar were denied bail for the second time on Thursday, according to a statement released by the Centre for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ). Jihad Momani and Hashem Khalidi, who had been released on bail on Sunday, were rearrested on Monday after the Press and Publication Department filed a lawsuit against them for republishing offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
Also on Thursday, Momani’s first hearing in the Conciliation Court was adjourned until Feb.16, after his lawyer Mohmmad Quteishat told the judge that his client’s health prevented him from attending the session. Momani and Khalidi are both in hospital "due to stress and exhaustion… They are in stable condition, under police arrest in hospital," according to Nidal Mansour head of CDFJ. The two journalists were admitted to hospital after they complained of chest pains, according to their doctors. "The centre will submit another request to free Momani and Khalidi next Sunday …"
Source: [The Jordan Times]
It is worth noting that of all the countries re-publishing the offensive cartoons — including Egypt as reported by Egypt’s Sandmonkey — it was only Jordan that imprisoned the journalists that decided to run the caricatures! And you wonder why I’m skeptical about recent calls for a free press in Jordan! Free Momani and Khalidi now!
You’ve touched on some essential issues. Not to make it sound like tit-for-tat, but allow me to take us to the “other side”. David Irving has been sentenced to 3 years by the Austrian government on grounds of anti-semitic hate. Eight years ago, Roger Garaudy – although not imprisoned – was found guilty of Holocaust denial, and fined. Laws punishing anti-semitism are a reality, and I dont see a point in anyone trying to fight such laws. Nevertheless, laws that would prevent defamation of Islam or any other religions should be enforced strongly as well!
Overall, press has more freedom than it ever had, I think (I’m not a journalist). But what do you see around you? More polarization between East and West, Islamophobia cancerously growing. Hate is in the air! And its not only directed towards a certain race or religion. Its everywhere!
In a nutshell, with all due respect to press and journalism, and to those involved in it, this is an extremely powerful industry. It’s a superpower on its own. The escalation in the Muslim world’s reaction towards the cartoons did not take off until it was advertised and dramatized on big media names. What’s the brand equity of Aljazeera, Jeff? Real big, no? Two of its staff are in jail, Jeff! In my opinion, their jailings have contributed in some way to Aljazeera’s credibility, thus its brand value. Twisted!
I’m certainly more confused now about where the line should be drawn for freedom of press, and whether any journalist should be jailed, but I still firmly believe that laws should be passed to prevent such ignorance and hate from being publicly displayed in the name of freedom.
Uh Sammy, I think you missed the point and content of this post. There was not an argument as you suggest but rather an observation that Jordan jailed its journalists, while other countries in the region did not. Do you think that jailing journalists is the best way to handle this issue? I think that putting jail time as a possible result of journalistic work will have a chilling effect, leading to self-censorship and in the end a much less free national press. I believe others in Jordan agreed, as the journalists were freed shortly after their initial arrest but then, after noise in Parliament, they were put back in again. You seem to see some point in the jailing. But where does that point end? When it is in your favor you are for it, but what of when you are against something? I’m aware of Jordan’s history with the weeklies and how young the “free” press is in the kingdom. But jailing journalists is really heading in the wrong direction don’t you think?
Way to go, Natasha and Lina, trying to sell those futile arguments of freedom of speech back home!
Our King solemnly spoke out against such acts of ignorance. He said it with a voice of reason. But what you ladies are uttering is noise! There should always be a point behind freedom of speech; remember, there’s a big difference between criticism and defamation.
And I do believe freedom of press in Jordan is at a healthy level, and it varies between countries and cultures, depending on backgrounds and people’s sensitivities to certain issues. How else would you explain that the largest adult film industry is in the US, yet that same country does not permit the viewing of pornography on public TV, whilst such ban is not imposed in other Western countries.
I think there should be an international resolution that sanctions any verbal or written attack on religions. And when that happens, what futile cliches are you gonna try to sell next?
Wake up and try to argue something more useful.
Jailing those two gentelmen is not the answer.
So now we are against the Jordanian laws?
Simply, the writers could have expressed thier opinions without publishing the cartoons. Why on earth did they choose to publish these cartoons in this critical time!
Or is it that being secular and publishing these cartoons is the only area that writers in Jordan cannot write about? Why don’t they be real bold and write about more sensitive issues which would be beneficial to Jordan.
I can execuse Danish because they don’t know about Islam and Muslims when they published such cartoons, but I can’t execuse those Jordanians who know how thier people think in this country.
Focus on the real issues here:
Here is the real enemy of freedom of press: http://www.guardian.co.uk/cartoonprotests/story/0,,1706729,00.html
he can’t even go to work and for what? For this? http://christianparty.net/holocaust.htm
Let’s start a campaign of protest against their arrest and the denial of bail.. I am so angry about this, and I think we should get our voice heard!
Egyptian paper published the cartoons 4 months ago. No outrage when the publication headlined drawings on Ramadan cover:
Click on the link below to see what I mean
Talk about hypocracy ! There you have it