December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Jordan

Jordon March 10, 2006

HM King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein
c/o Karim Tawfiq Kawar
Ambassador of Jordan to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
3504 International Drive, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Fax: (202) 966-3110
 

Your Excellency:
 

We write to protest the recent closure of two Jordanian weeklies after they re-printed the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. While we understand the sensitivities that have been offended by these cartoons, we must insist that the free media must have the right to dispense facts, opinions and images, even when they are offensive, without official interference or retribution.

On January 26 and February 2, two Jordanian weeklies, al-Mihwar and Shihan, published the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in Denmark ‘s Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005. The Jordanian editors said that their intent was to show that the cartoons were silly and thereby to calm, not provoke, popular anger. The editors expressly denied any intent to promote hatred of Muslims.  
 
The owner of Shihan subsequently fired his editor, Jihad al-Mu’mani. On February 4, Jordanian authorities arrested al-Mu’mani and Hashim al-Khalidi, editor of Mihwar, and charged them with violating Article 278 of the penal code. Article 278 prohibits publishing “anything in print or writing or a picture or drawing or symbol that leads to an insult of the religious feelings of other persons or their religious faith.”  
 
On February 6, Jordanian authorities filed additional Press and Publications Law charges against the editors. Article 5 of that law “prohibits [the media] from publishing anything that… contradicts the values of the Arab and Islamic nation,” and Article 7 “prohibits the publication of anything that might incite sectarianism among the citizens in any form.” The editors were released on bail on February 12, but face lengthy prison terms if convicted under Jordan ‘s penal code.

The Overseas Press Club of America has been defending journalists and press freedom around the world for more than 65 years. Your Excellency, this controversy has been provocative in its origins, mischievous in its exploitation and tragic in its consequences. We hope it may subside without further damage. But it would be harmful indeed if the episode served to justify suppression of the basic human right of freedom of expression.

We thank you for your attention to this matter, and ask you to ensure that the editors are spared any jail time and that all charges against them are immediately dropped. We look forward to your reply.
 

Respectfully yours,
Minky Worden
Larry Martz
Freedom of the Press Committee

 

 

cc:

 

Karim Tawfiq Kawar

Ambassador of Jordan to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
3504 International Drive, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Fax: (202) 966-3110

 

 

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

to the United Nations

866 United Nations Plaza , 4th Floor

New York , NY 10017

Fax: (212) 826-0830

 

 

Jennifer Hamarneh

Editor-in-Chief

The Jordan Times

Queen Rania Al Abdullah Street
P.O. Box 6710

Amman

Jordan

Fax: (011.962.6) 569-6183

 

 

David Hale

U.S. Ambassador to Jordan

Embassy of the United States of America

P.O. Box 354

Amman 11118

Jordan

Fax: (011.962.6) 592-0163