Beirut, August 8, 2017–Jordanian authorities should immediately stop blocking access to the online magazine My.Kali, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
The Jordanian Audiovisual Commission, a government regulator, on July 31, 2017, ordered access to the website, which describes itself as “LGTBQIA-inclusive,” blocked because it had not applied to the minister of information for a license in accordance with Jordan’s Press and Publication Law. The site’s founder, Khalid Abdel-Hadi, told CPJ that Jordanian internet users have in fact been unable to access the website since July 14, 2016, following the publication four days prior of an interview Abdel-Hadi gave to the independent media platform Raseef22 headlined, “How do homosexuals live in Jordan?” My.Kali has since published on the online platform Medium.com, which is not blocked in Jordan, Abdel-Hadi said. Outside of Jordan, the magazine’s original address, mykalimag.com, redirects to the magazine’s page on Medium.com
The order followed a complaint from Member of Parliament Dima Tahboub, the spokesperson of the Jordanian Islamic Action Front (IAF), according to news reports, Tahboub‘s Twitter account, and My.Kali. In a July 19 appearance on the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Tahboub said homosexuals were not welcome in Jordan when asked about her support for banning a concert in Jordan by the Lebanese band Mashrou Leila, whose songs contain lyrics about gender and homosexual relationships. Soon after the interview, Tahboub posted a picture of two men getting married and made mocking remarks about gay marriage on Twitter. My.Kali replied on Twitter by posting a picture of a Western women’s rights activist and asking the MP whether she believed the picture represented the struggle for women’s rights in Jordan.
“The petty abuse of Jordan’s Press and Publications Law to censor the online magazine My.Kali–which was in fact already blocked in Jordan–in response to a Twitter spat underlines the necessity of reforming this law,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. “We call on Jordanian authorities to allow all media to publish freely and to amend the law to prevent similar abuses in the future.”
The Jordanian Audiovisual Committee did not reply to CPJ’s email or repeated phone calls seeking comment.