AMMAN Ã¢?? The Conciliation Court on Tuesday sentenced two journalists to two months in prison each for republishing controversial cartoons vilifying the Prophet Mohammad.
Jihad Momani, former chief editor of Shihan weekly, and Hashem Khalidi, the editor of Al Mihwar weekly, were released on bail pending their appeal. Their lawyer Mohammad Qteishat pledged to launch an appeal within the coming few days.
If the sentences are upheld on appeal, both editors will be given the option of paying a fine to avoid imprisonment. Under the Penal Code, sentences of up to three months can be replaced with a fine. Momani said he was Ã¢??shockedÃ¢?Â by the guilty verdict. [Jordan Times] [LA Times]
I don’t understand our judicial system sometimes (most of the time). Why can’t they just pay a fine? Why is jail always the first resort? Everytime a journalist in Jordan gets thrown in jail whatever little freedom is left is eroded away. At least that’s the message Jordanian courts send to the rest of the world.
Jordan plans to scrap prison sentences for offences involving the press, the government said on Wednesday, a day after two journalists were handed jail terms.
“The government is committed to legally abolishing prison sentences for journalists in press and publications-related offences,” government spokesperson Nasser Jawdeh told AFP.
“This policy has been clearly expressed by the king (Abdullah II) on a number of occasions,” he said.
“The government will do so through a clear clause to this effect in the new press and publication law that it will present to the parliament,” said the spokesman. [source]
We’ll have to see if parliament approves. I’ve made mention of this before.
Jordanian blogger Lina also has an interesting post about the situation that’s worth a read.