Jordan's Activist Younis Qandil Fakes Abduction, Torture, Faces Trial

Published November 18th, 2018 - 09:41 GMT
MWB Secretary General Younis Qandil was reported missing by his family on November 9. (Twitter)
MWB Secretary General Younis Qandil was reported missing by his family on November 9. (Twitter)

Police over the weekend said they arrested the Momenoun (believers) Without Borders (MWB) secretary general and his relative for allegedly staging an abduction earlier in the month.

MWB Secretary General Younis Qandil was reported missing by his family on November 9 in the Tareq area, a senior police official said.

Qandil was found later in a forested area and close relatives claimed he was subjected to torture and burns by three hooded men.

But late Thursday night, the Public Security Department issued a statement stating that Qandil “made up the entire story of abduction and torture”.

“Our investigations indicated that Qandil’s story of abduction and what happened afterwards did not add up,” Police Spokesperson Lt. Col. Amer Sartawi said.

The police spokesperson told The Jordan Times that “upon questioning Qandil and other family members, they concluded that he sought the help of one of his family members to stage the entire incident”.

In addition, the investigating team relied on a report by the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, which indicated that “Qandil’s torture marks on his back were fabricated,” a senior medical source said.

“It was clear to the forensic experts that the wounds on the back of Qandil were superficial, not deep and had straight linings, which in the end will heal quickly without any complications. This led us to believe that it was fabricated,” the senior medical source told The Jordan Times.

Qandil was the referred to the criminal prosecutor who will begin questioning him on the incident, the police official added.

The prosecutor ordered that he and his nephew be detained for 15 days on several charges, which included spreading false news and instigating sectarianism.

Qandil was one of the organisers of a conference on contemporary religious narratives, which was recently cancelled by the Interior Ministry after receiving a complaint by Amman Third District Islamist MP Dima Tahboub and MP Khalil Attyyeh who said one of the papers scheduled to be discussed was offensive to God and the Islamic religion.

The Masarat Centre conference for ideological enlightenment was scheduled to be held in early November after securing the necessary official approvals, with the participation of 50 religious scholars and researchers from Jordan and abroad.

The papers the conference sought to discuss covered several topics, including contemporary religious narratives, modernised ideological models and religious media discourse, according to Masarat’s Facebook page.

Instead, the organisers said at a press conference that was held following the cancellation decision that they began “receiving death threats following news of the cancellation of the conference”.

During the press conference held in front of the Writer’s Association’s headquarters in Jabal Luweibdeh, Qandil stressed that the content of the conference was “in accordance with our religious fundamentals and values while maintaining the right for the participants to express their opinions and thoughts in a scientific manner”, adding that it aimed “to allow thinkers and researchers to express their ideas and explore the religion in a manner that ensures the safety and security of all”.

Qandil then charged that the cancellation amounted to “politicising the Islamic religion in Jordan in order to control our lives, although the Islamic religion is supposed to encourage discussions and allow us to express our opinions freely”.

Following news of the alleged attack on Qandil, the conference organisers filed a lawsuit against dozens of people in Jordan who sent them threatening messages via social media and accused them of being “apostates and infidels”.

MP Tahboub told The Jordan Times that she decided to file a defamation lawsuit against Qandil and several Jordanian journalists and activists “who published threats, accusations and hate speech via their Facebook pages”.

“These people threatened me and depicted me as the devil. I have a family and daughter who are worried about my life and well-being so it is my right to fight back in court,” Tahboub said.

MWB issued a statement on its Facebook page announcing the freezing of Qandil’s membership until investigations concluded.

“We usually fight for a concept and principle, and not individuals and we stand by what we believe in… We also respect the Jordanian judiciary and any outcome that will emerge from the investigation into Qandil’s allegations,” the MWB statement said.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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