Jordanian Editors Will Go To Jail Over Cartoons

AMMAN â?? 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 â??shockedâ? 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.


  • I have faith in our judicial, and i beleive its free and independent and not influenced as is the case in surrounding cuontries, So i think the judged passed a fair sentence, his interpretation of the law may be a bit extreme but he acted well within it, which is is right 🙂

  • ops, dropped the word “system” at the begining there, my bad 🙂 also -ed in “the judged”.
    Sorry, i think i’m Obsessive compulsive 😛

  • Naseem, I don’t think a fine is a fair thing either. Like the latest press law where everyone was demanding the replacement of the jail sentence for journalists with a higher fine, like do you think a journalist or editor would think “Oh as long as I won’t be thrown in jail, I’ll take my chances, speak up, and risk having to pay God knows how many thousands JDs.. because, you know, I have the money, and I’m willing to pay it for freedom of press!!”

    I don’t think so!

    I don’t think it’s the fault of the judiciary system either.. I think the law is flawed, and full of vagueness that allows judges and people to give it a vast range of interpretations.

    I don’t think Jihad Al Momani deserves to be punished in any way for what he wrote or published!!

  • Lina, oh I agree with you on the fines. What I meant to say in my post is that in this particular case, given the particular circumstances of judicial system and laws, why didn’t they just fine them instead of putting them in jail? It’s a matter of a proportional response (give the current laws)

    in my idealist mindset, everything else you said is what I’m imagining.

    however Lina, there are always laws to protect groups of people who feel that the press has been misused to target and offend them on basis of religion or race or slander. and I feel those should be in effect to some extent.

    bakkouz, you’re a strange one bro 😀

    it’s the “within his right” part which I have trouble with. and don’t make the mistake of underestimating the extent of which the judiciary is effected by the powers-that-be, whoever they may be.

  • Hello all..

    I appreciate what everyone is saying..but its important to have one’s facts straight. Jail is not the first resort and the judiciary is quite independent. In matters related to press and journalist should be jailed…The government is committed to this and this will be translated into a clear clause in the new Press and Publications law..As for the sentence passed on the two editors two days is not a new case but a continuation of the old case in the courts against them..AND the two have the right to appeal and I think they will, and thankfully our legal system allows for that. They did not however go to jail, and hopefully their appeal will be heard and reviewed favorably.

  • Abu Tariq, while I recognise the government’s committment to this matter it has yet to be reflected and yet to be implemented, so suffice to say these two journalists have just slipped through the cracks of a now historical system. And thankfully our system allows for an appeal but why should they have to appeal in the first place, why should their sentence even have to be jail in the first place? They printed cartoons (under a specific context mind you) which were indeed offensive to many, yet of the options available to judge it was jail time that was dealt.

    These are the essential questions in play, it’s not about what the “could be” and the “should be”…it’s about what is. Thank you for your comment.

Your Two Piasters: