I was dismayed to read that former Minister of Information Adnan Abu Odeh was charged after an interview he granted Aljazeera during which he expressed his opinions about the situation of Jordanian-Palestinians in the Kingdom. I regard it as a real blow to free speech in Jordan.
I interviewed Abu Odeh some years back for a university project that I was working on. I did not agree with everything he said, but I respected his right to say it and even used some of his quotes for my project. In this day and age, charging Abu Odeh for stating his personal opinion is simply outrageous. I want to reiterate what Abu Aardvark has said on the issue:
Whatever one thinks of Abu Odeh or about Jordanian-Palestinian identity politics, nobody interested in liberal reform in Jordan (or in the Arab world) should be happy to see someone like Abu Odeh being prosecuted for simply stating political opinions in public.
Indeed. I also would like to highlight some extracts from today’s The Jordan Times editorial:
Are we never going to learn that silencing the voices of dissent is, ultimately, a self-defeating act? Whether we like it or not, what former Royal Court chief Adnan Abu Odeh recently told Al Jazeera Television should be his right. That he should be charged with sedition is preposterous. First of all, someone engaging in what might be called a seditious enterprise usually intends to create public disorder or disturbance and thereby cause violence. This certainly, by any stretch of the imagination, was not Abu Odeh’s intent … Let us remember that the Jordanian Constitution guarantees citizens freedom of worship, press, opinion, petition and peaceful assembly. That the indignation of some towards Abu Odeh’s opinions should be allowed to be translated into legal charges, flies in the face of these sacred guarantees.