JORDAN


Middle East and North Africa cases 2003: Country List    I   Middle East and North Africa Regional Home Page
How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press




JANUARY 16, 2003

Nasser Qamash, Al-Hilal
Roman Haddad, Al-Hilal
Mohannad Mubaidin, Al-Hilal

IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION

Qamash, Haddad, and Mubaidin, editor-in-chief, managing editor, and writer, respectively, with the weekly magazine Al-Hilal, were detained after an article by Mubaidin that appeared in the magazine's January 14 edition was deemed offensive. Authorities considered the article, titled "Aisha in the Prophet's House," insulting to the family of the prophet Mohammed. The article, which was sexual in nature, described why the prophet preferred Aisha over his other wives.

A lawyer for the journalists, Mohamed Abu Rumman, told CPJ that on January 16, the prosecutor of the State Security Court summoned the three journalists and the magazine's publisher, Ahmad Salama, for questioning. Salama was released later that day, but Qamash, Haddad, and Mubaidin were ordered detained for 15 days for questioning. The same day, the prosecutor ordered the magazine closed for two months.

On January 28, the three were formally charged with "insulting the dignity of the state," a violation of Article 150 of the Penal Code. Abu Rumman reported that the three have also been accused of "insulting the heavenly religions," a violation of Article 273 of the Penal Code.

On February 19, the court convicted and sentenced the journalists. Although Haddad and Qamash were sentenced to 14 months and 15 months in jail, respectively, the court commuted their sentences to time served and fined the men instead. Mubaidin was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but the court reduced his sentence to six months.


SEPTEMBER 23, 2003

Al-Wihda
CENSORED

Jordanian authorities banned an issue of the private weekly Al-Wihda. According Mowaffaq Mahadeen, a managing editor at the publication, and independent sources in the capital, Amman, the general prosecutor of the State Security Court ordered the ban.

Mahadeen told CPJ that the issue was banned prior to being printed and distributed. Like many other papers in Jordan, Al-Wihda is printed at the offices of larger publications that own the printers. Mahadeen said that the editor of the paper received a call from the general prosecutor demanding that certain articles be removed before the paper could appear on newsstands. When Al-Wihda editors refused, the issue was banned.

Sources in Amman told CPJ that while Jordan's Press Law does not technically allow prior censorship, it is common for some employees who work for printers to "tip off" authorities about potentially sensitive articles in private newspapers. Mahadeen told CPJ he believes that the offending article in the banned issue was about the practice of torture in Jordan.