Headlines of the local media today are all about the King’s meeting with members of the press where he stated, in a very direct manner, what many have been waiting to hear:
“In Jordan there will be no detention of any journalist for carrying out his/her duty…Detention of journalists is prohibited. I do not see a reason for detaining a journalist because he/she wrote something [or for expressing a view]”
At the same time, the King continued, citizensâ€™ rights are protected and they â€œhave the right to resort to courts of law in case they feel their rights were violated by any media organisationâ€. [source]
Now while these words of support are essential to the process, the process itself is stuck in the mud. There is no doubt that media freedoms in the past three years or so, have regressed. And unless the King just made a royal decree, then we still live in an environment of laws that contribute to the continued jailing of journalists in a variety of ways.
So I’m wondering now, are the King’s words, as direct as they are, indicative of any official measures-to-come that will amend the legislative arena that journalists still fear?
An more importantly, while few journalists in the country ever see the inside of a jail cell, their daily job has become mostly about avoiding one. In other words, I’m wondering what will be done about the larger problem of censorship and self-censorship that is running rampant in this country and creating one of the most impotent media sectors I’ve ever seen. What will be done about the menacing phone calls?
With that in mind.
If anyone remembers the very recent jailing of Jordanian poet, Islam Sarhan, I would point you to 7iber where there is an interesting feature about him worth reading.
It is a step forward. I hope we will see more constructive journalism now.
I hope this is sincere and not the usual hot air we have come to know and love. One easy way to test this is to see if they shut down Al-Jazeera’s offices next time they criticize anything in Jordan.
On a related note, did anyone watch the final episode of Al-Jazeera’s “Shahid 3ala al 3asr” recently with the guy who used to be head of the Mu5abarat? It was the funniest thing I saw in a long time. The man was saying, amongst other things, that once a decision is taken, disagreeing with this decision is akin to challenging the sovereignty of the country. See the link below for the transcript – most amusing:
So, If i write an article about the royal family’s lavish life style and their excessive spending,which off course,all this expenditure comes out of the poor Jordanian people pockets ,will my article see the light in one of the dailies,let alone being sent t jail and off course tortured by the king’s tools such his notorious Mokhabarat???????
Marwan: as do i
Ibby: that would definitely be a good litmus test.
The Poor Arab: well as you know, talk is very cheap, especially in the arab world. so the only way to find out is to write up that article and publish it. best of luck on your endeavor!
hasnt he said that before?
Excellent! so journalist should start loosing up!
just mentioned this and your blog on SPIN 🙂
you’re good, naseem, real good.
Same was said about political activism in universities, but nothing happened there, it even got worse..
Also do you remember the elections? Fair?
BTW observer, if they loosen up, the main issues they will tackle will be relegious and social in nature.
Poor arab: this is called the red line they always talk about, you know state security court and such with qade7 maqamat 3olia(Ifeel that I am living in the ottoman empire)..
Naseem, where is the comments widget? It made it easier to check back..
mohanned: sorry man, it caused a technical error but i’m working on bringing it back.
what if someone wrote an article criticizing the king?
I don’t think Jordan is ready to criticize the King, and I can live with that for now. But why does reform have to come from above? why does the King have to declare this rather than the parliament enforce it? It seems backwards. I think this indicates a dysfunctional democratic process. Freedom of speech and democracy are not the same thing, and we need both.
Mohammad: “I think this indicates a dysfunctional democratic process”. There is no democratic process, dysfunctional or otherwise. We do need democracy and freedom of speech. Unfortunately at the moment freedom of speech is a joke and democracy, judging by the last election is an embarrassing farce.
If we were to look at Nas’ blog topics as a survey of what is important to Jordanians – the assumption being that the more important topics will prompt more people to place comments – we would find that lesbians are twice as important to Jordanians as freedom of speech.