Imprisoning The Digital Word; The Case Of Ahmed Oweidi

The LA Times has an article about Ahmed Oweidi, an ex-MP who is head of a small political party, Jordan National Movement. I used to receive a lot of emails from their website for some reason and I guess they put me on a mailing list. I am pretty much at odds with a lot, if not most, of what the party says and the way it addresses issues, especially the larges doses of hypocrisy and contradictions. I not only disagree with the Jordan National Movement, I think they’re a bunch of nuts and I think we have a lot of political parties that are a bunch of nuts. That’s just my opinion and I’m entitled to it.

Ahmed was arrested a few weeks back and I’ve been reading up on the issue since.

I mentioned my disagreement earlier as a way of saying that irregardless of someone’s politics, it remains utter stupidity that anyone is still being jailed for what they say out loud in Jordan.

This case is even more absurd because he was arrested for what he said in an email. I can only imagine the precedent this sets for what is said on an even bigger media platform: a blog!

The old guard is sticking to old ways: jail whoever disagrees with the status quo. What they don’t seem to realize is that old ways don’t work in new environments. New media keeps a new generation of Jordanian, representing half the population, more informed than ever before. Rarely is someone jailed without everyone knowing about it and drawing their own conclusions. It’s as easy as someone emailing me the story from the LA Times website in an attempt to get me to talk about it on my blog.

Moreover, if the concept is to jail someone in order to crush an idea or a party or a rival, it in fact only garners them more support than ever before. It’s the equivalent of the Jordanian government banning a book and then wondering why everyone in Jordan seems to have read it.

(Many thanks to whoever emailed me the story)

(sorry for the earlier typo)


  • Yes Naseem, I received the same article today from a friend and it really upset me (especially that I’ve been raving about Jordan to convince that friend to come to Amman and leave LA!). What’s scary is that this is one of the few cases where a person is imprisoned for online contact, and that breeds some level of self-censorship on us bloggers.

    Yes, this is how the IAF grew in popularity: Simply because the government opposed the party so fiercely that the public tended to side with the IAF. I really hope that this case is resolved without inflicting any damage on Oweidi..

    But I guess this is how things work: We take one big step forward, then such events take us one step backwards. When will we learn?

  • Scholar or not, if you live in a monarchy, and you criticize the monarch, you’re pretty much asking for it. I’d agree with you, he’s crazy.

  • Nix that, Hani. If you live in an ABSOLUTE monarchy and you criticize the monarch, you are asking for it. Constitutional monarchs have no legal prerogative to abrogate individual rights in response to scathing criticism. Absolute monarchs, on the other hand, use their control of the internal security agencies to punish those who dare embarrass them in front of their friends. Nobody cared about ‘Abbadi, who is indeed a xenophobic idiotic clown, when he was ranting about the King’s excesses in front of local students and foreign researchers. But now that he is trying to reach political figures in Washington directly, he arouses anger. Not that he will succeed; his “letter” is poorly worded, his “website” has no value, and his “publications” beyond his historical works (which, by the way, are not all that bad if you go for tribal social history) have no standards behind them. But the point is that you should be able to criticize the powers that be, even with false allegations, in a true democratic system. It is only when the powers-that-be preemptively silence you that you know that “democracy” exists in word only.

  • Urduni, perhaps, but we all already know there are no true democracies in this region.

    Mind you, not that true democracies are perfect either. Hitler was elected democratically, and so was George W.

    My point was, this guy knew what he was getting into when he did this, perhaps it would have been enough to give him a warning.

    What upsets me is when some poor journalists writes an article about another country and they get arrested under the (jeopardizing relations with a friendly country) law.

  • Hani,
    What upsets you upsets me too, but if you want to look carefully the only countires that we are not allowed to critisize in our papers in jordan are those countires who lack democracy, for example KSA, UAE, syria, Egypt, etc…Maybe except for lebanon..But when you open our papers you will always see attacks on relatively democratic states such are countries in europe the US of A and israel..

    Two days ago the an Iraqi official which they claim that iraq is a democracy came to jordan and demanded that the jordanian government should control its media and not attack malikies government…Something to think about..

  • “”But when you open our papers you will always see attacks on relatively democratic states such are countries in europe the US of A and israel..””
    Mohannad,,,you mean ,they have also democratic occupation?
    I just can’t believe how Western educated Arab spin the truth,you are perfect example of classical Arab Orientalist.

  • Nas,

    Abbadi is charged by the government with slander, the charge alleges that he falsely accused the regime/ royal court of corruption. It is considered a libelous statement when one falsely accuses another entity of misconduct, in his case the government considered his invidious statements defamatory. It is now incumbent upon him to prove that the statements he made were true, and if he isn’t able to prove them then in all likelihood will be convicted. His case is very much similar to Toujan Fisal case when she made some accusatory statements against the former Prime Minister Abu Raghib. Abbadi like Fisal needs to learn to speak only if can substantiate his allegations with concrete facts, otherwise, the long arm of the law will get him and he will go to jail which isn’t a very nice place for any one to be.

  • ماشاالله عليك ياهيثم وعلي افكارك يعني يا رجل ملكك نفسه بتكلم عن الفساد في ألاردن الحبيب،يعني هو الاردن نازل من عند ربنا،مكل الناس بتتكلم علي الفساد والرشوات الي يتصير عن جنب وطرف من الاساس الي الراس،ووا صار لواواحد زي العبادي صار يحكي عن الاختلاس والرشوات

  • AlurduniAlhurr,

    اول شي اسمي حاتم مش هيثم ثاني شي في فرج كبير بين الحكي من جهه وبين القدح والذم والتشهير من جهة ثانيه ثالث شي خلي القضاء يو خذ مجراه

  • Up date,

    According to this report published in the Jordan Times on Friday, September 21, 2007. Abbadi states that he was framed and had “no knowledge of the contents of the letter or that it existed”.

    Abbadi, who stressed that he is devoted to Jordan, its leadership and the people and has written 75 books on the Kingdom, claimed that “hackers entered the website and published the letter to set me up”.

Your Two Piasters: