Jordan police crack down on hate speech following murder of Jordanian writer

Published October 6th, 2016 - 09:00 GMT
Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar was shot outside of the Palace of Justice in Amman on Sept. 25, 2016 after he shared a controversial cartoon on social media. (AFP/File)
Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar was shot outside of the Palace of Justice in Amman on Sept. 25, 2016 after he shared a controversial cartoon on social media. (AFP/File)

Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of 16 people suspected of using social media to issue threats or to spread sectarianism and hate speech.

“As part of our ongoing campaign, we arrested 16 individuals, including some who sent threats and hate mail and statements following the murder of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar,” the Public Security Department (PSD) said in a statement.

The individuals were all referred to the prosecutor for further investigation and indictment.

Hattar was gunned down on September 25 on the steps of the Palace of Justice allegedly by Riad Abdullah, 49, a resident of east Amman. 

The writer, facing trial for sharing a caricature that was considered insulting to religious beliefs, was apparently on his way to attend a court hearing.

Abdullah was charged with Hattar’s murder and referred to the State Security Court for further prosecution.

In his initial confession to police, Abdullah said he “targeted Hattar after hearing that he posted an offensive caricature on his Facebook page and decided to kill him,” a judicial source said in previous remarks to The Jordan Times.

The suspect confessed to buying a gun one week before the incident, and on the day of the crime, he headed to the Palace of Justice and shot Hattar “the minute he saw him,” the source added.

Some individuals used social media to praise Abdullah’s alleged crime, while others set up a Facebook page calling for the suspect’s release. 

The government announced that it would not tolerate any attempts by individuals to use social media to spread hate speech or instigate sectarianism and unrest online.

Anyone found committing such acts will be arrested and their social media accounts will be closed, a government official told The Jordan Times late last month.

The PSD warned that its Electronic Crime Division will continue to monitor social media and will detain anyone who posts statements that do “not fit our culture, tradition, values and religious fabric”.

The police urged citizens to “use the media in a responsible manner and to avoid sharing any content deemed harmful to national unity or spreading hate speech”.

Security sources said the suspected killer was known for his extremist thoughts and behaviour.


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