ARIJ condemns assassination of Nahed Hattar
Amman, 27 September, 2016 – Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) condemns Sunday’s assassination of Jordanian writer and columnist Nahed Hattar outside an Amman court, where he was facing charges of “insulting religion” in connection with a cartoon he shared on Facebook.
The Amman-based network questions why the government did not afford Hattar any security protection, despite threats on his life manifested in tens of letters of condemnation received by officials over the past month that called for his bloodshed.
Hattar was taken into custody for his own protection on August 13 after he shared a cartoon depicting a bearded man in bed in heaven with two girls, ordering God to serve him wine and food and a making sure that a ‘no disturb” sign be put on door. Following his arrest, a public prosecutor issued a gag order on reporting on the case. He was released on bail early September.
“His assassination is a direct result of lack of commitment to freedom of expression and independent media by Jordanian authorities who are not sparing much effort to protect society from the growing voices of hardliners and radicals”, said ARIJ, a media support network promoting accountability journalism in nine Arab states since 2005.
“We ask the court to hand down the most extreme punishment on the assassin who killed Hattar and those who stand behind him”.
ARIJ also questions the motives behind those who leaked to local media the date of what was supposed to be the start of his “closed trial” on September 25, which allowed the assassin to kill him in broad day light.
“Terrorism will not scare the majority of Jordanian and Arab journalists and columnists who carry the Hattar’s banner of reform and enlightenment to consolidate the values of free speech, pluralism, rule of law and citizenship-based societies across a region that is witnessing a pull between those calling for continued authoritarianism and those calling for a modern state based on democracy and separation of politics and religion”.