The nature of my current job requires me to keep a close eye on press freedom violations across the world. I was surprised to see Jordan’s name pop up twice over the last ten days or so as a violator. The first violation involved the confiscation of an Alajzeera interview tape. The second involved the banning of Almajed newspaper because the Jordanian government alleged its front page article "harmed relations with the Palestinian government". Here is an excerpt [full article here] from the Committee to Protect Journalists’ report:
Jordanian authorities should lift their ban on today’s edition of an independent paper, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Fahd al-Rimawi, editor of the weekly Al-Majd, told CPJ that security agents moved Sunday to prevent printing of the edition because of a front-page story about a "secret plan" to oust the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Al-Rimawi said security officials told him they would ban the April 30 edition if he did not remove the article, the Associated Press reported. In an interview with CPJ, al-Rimawi said the issue had already been sent out for printing. Like many small tabloids in Jordan, Al-Majd is printed by larger publications that own printing presses. In this case, the leading pro-government daily Al-Rai handles Al-Majd’s printing.
Are we witnessing a press freedom backslide in Jordan? For the past several years or so Jordan has been making baby steps towards safeguarding the freedom of the press. One step was the recent scrapping of an article that allowed for the imprisonment of journalists. However, from what I read this week, things are not looking good. It seems the kingdom is regressing to previous years where stifling press freedoms was the norm. I don’t want to jump to conclusions quickly here so I must point out that the Jordanian government has denied banning the newspaper.
Government Spokesperson Nasser Judeh told journalists Tuesday that the government had nothing to do with the issue of printing or banning the fortnightly. Meanwhile, the commercial printing press of the Jordan Press Foundation said it did not print Al Majd because it carried items "violating Article 26 of the Press and Publications Law," which prohibits publishing any material that might threaten national security.
Source: [The Jordan Times]