Jordanian Islamist MPs Are Going To Jail

Well the verdict is in and Abu Fares and Abu Sukkar are going to jail for praising Zarqawi at his wake back in June.

Abu Fares was sentenced to 2 years in jail and Abu Sukkar to 1 1/2 years for their “provocative” remarks about Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed by U.S. forces June 7.

“The court is convinced by the evidence implicating the two … defendants â?? Mohammed Abu Fares and Ali Abu Sukkar,” said the presiding judge, whose name was withheld upon orders by the military court.

But the court acquitted a third defendant, Jaafar al-Hourani, for lack of evidence. It said the legislator did not make any provocative statements like the other two defendants and ruled that he must be released immediately.

The verdict “is imbalanced and carries political ramifications â?? simply to prevent both outspoken lawmakers, who are critics of government policies, from contesting next year’s parliamentary elections,” he said.

After the verdict was read out, Abu Fares nodded his head in dismay as he said: “May God help us all.”

In a written verdict distributed on the press, the court cited “provocative” remarks the legislators made during and after the terrorist leader’s wake. It said Abu Fares described al-Zarqawi as a “martyr,” while Abu Sukkar lauded his “martyrdom” and rebuked the presence of the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq.

“The words went way beyond the ethics of condolences at a wake,” the document said.

The three defendants pleaded innocent at the start of the trial in July to charges that they harmed national unity by “instigating sectarian strife and fueling national discord.”

During the trial, the court heard Abu Fares denying that he called al-Zarqawi a “martyr,” although prosecution evidence included a video tape showing the lawmaker using that description. The legislators also argued that their visit to al-Zarqawi’s home was “not a crime” and that the wake was “not outlawed” by the government.

A fourth legislator, Ibrahim al-Mashwakhi, was detained for visiting the al-Zarqawi home in Zarqa, northeast of Amman, on June 11. But Jordan’s chief military prosecutor released him earlier this month, saying “his action didn’t constitute a crime.” [source]

It appears from the news reports these past few weeks that they recieved a fair trial. The crime was not in attending the wake but in praising the guy. I guess it’s difficult to argue you didn’t say something when it’s on video. It also begs the question should lawmakers be aware of the law?

In June I was pretty angry about this whole situation and I suppose it was partly because Zarqawi had just been killed and any political official in Jordan praising him was bound to pick on my darker side. I still think what they did was wrong but as far as their punishment, one has to consider the ramifications.

Will this have a positive or negative impact? Will people start praising Zarqawi under their breath? Will support increase or decrease? Will this strengthen the IAF as a party in the next elections or weaken it?

In truth I know the answers to these questions but they’re all glass-half-empty so I’m hoping time will prove me wrong.


  • Salam,

    I’m not a fan of Alqaeda, I never liked Bin Laden nor Alzarqawi.


    If we are going to talk about democracy, prisoning those two men is extremely undemocratic. How can Jordan go on now and claim it is
    a libral democratic country when they only are in a partial way.

    In the US we see demonstrations for the KKK, Gays&Lesbians, and religious fanatics. IF you want to become a democratic country you have to allow all parties the freedom of expression even though it is against the majority of people.


  • The verdict is a disgrace. What these MP’s said was wrong and should be condemned, but their words do not justify this sentence. This is a dangerous precedent to be set in Jordan and will further hurt freedoms of speech and expression.

  • I have to agree that the verdict is a disgrace… The way I see it, a member of the jordanian parlement MUST be a representatives of Jordanians… Those two MPs showed that they dont represent the Jordanian side, which justifies kicking em out of the parlement… BUT still they CAN have personal opinions because there is freedom of political opinion, so while outside the parlement they can believe whatever they want to believe, so jailing them is a crime in the name of freedom of speech!! (well, Jordan is well-known for violating that right, so what the hell im saying!!)

  • “This is a dangerous precedent to be set in Jordan and will further hurt freedoms of speech and expression.”

    I can assure you the general consensus in Jordan is that this is not the first time this happens. Tojan Faisal was also put in jail mainly for political reasons, and therefore was effectively barred from running for parliamentary elections too.

  • i agree with whats been said so far but i dont buy the whole “they were put in jail because the government doesn’t want them running in the next election”. well keeping mind first of all that this was the judicial system that put them in jail and not the government but more importantly: two empty seats on the Islamists side of the aisle…how ever will they fill them with an outspoken critic of the government? they’re practically a dime a dozen and if anything a move like this will result in helping Islamists gain more seats next time around. I gaurentee you this case will be a major part of their campaigning.

  • I agree that while the remarks of the MPs are despicable, sending them to jail is wrong for both ethical and political reasons.

    Ethically is is wrong because a mature political culture must tolerate free speech and politically because it grants these men the status of “martyrs”.

  • I agree that there should be a reproof, but I’m all the way against jail! This feels like “‘3orfet elfeeran”, you knwo when teachers at schools threaten 1st graders that they will send them to that dark creepy room if they acted bad. Zay el5awareef, maaaaaaaaaa2! Get a life

Your Two Piasters: