Jordan cautious and nervous following Hattar killing

Jordan cautious and nervous following Hattar killing
The assassination of Jordanian critic Nahed Hattar has divided public opinion, with many seeing this as an attack on freedom of speech, both by extremists and the government.
3 min read
25 Sep, 2016
Hattar was facing charges for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam [al-Araby al-Jadeed]

The assassination of prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar outside an Amman court on Sunday has caused strong reactions from all sides in Jordan.

Hattar was in court facing charges for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam and had stirred public outcry in the kingdom.

His death sparked condemnations by many - even opponents - seeing this as an attack on free speech and pluralism in the country, which has so far avoided the turmoil of its neighbours in Iraq and Syria.

The 56-year-old Christian was shot three times in the head before security forces arrested the assailant. Sources said that the suspect's identity has been revealed, and named him as Riyadh Ismail Ahmed Abdullah.

Officials said he was a 49-year-old man from Amman with a history of religious extremism, and had been dismissed as an imam at a mosque after making offensive comments against Jordan's government.

It is not clear who made the cartoon, which allegedly led to Hattar's death.

The cartoon is question appears to show a caricatrue of an Islamic State group militant sitting next to two women in heaven and asking God to bring him wine.

He said that he did not intend to cause offence to Muslims, but wanted the cartoon to "expose" IS' views of God and heaven.

The cartoon made fun of "terrorists and how they imagine God and heaven, and does not insult God in any way", he explained.

Many people condemned the killing, arguing that it was an attack against freedom of expression, regardless of the writer's controversial views.

Translation: Whatever Nahed Hattar did, assaulting and punishing him outside the rule of law is a crime.

Others have been less sympathetic, saying Hattar was Islamophobic and elitist.

They also criticised is public support for Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad, a man viewed as reponsible for hundreds of thousands dead in Syria.

Translation: Hattar's stance on Bashar al-Assad was part of the Arab Left's intellectual immaturity, but his killing and showing support for it is an immoral act.

Translation: Hatter was the biggest apologist for Khamenei, Hassan Nasrallah, Hizballah and Bashar al-Assad.

Jordanians have been mostly outraged by the incident, but the attack has led to some 'celebrations' by opponents of the writer, with local media saying ten people were arrested for supporting the killing on social media.

The killing has brought to the surface a huge divide in Jordan, which many have ignored.

Translation: The comments on Nahed Hattar's killing are scarier than the incident itself!

Some users criticised the lack of action by the authorities, who were allegedly aware of threats against Hattar but failed to protect him.

Local media said that Hattar's family are holding the government responsible for his killing.

Khaled Hattar said his brother had informed the authorities about threats to his life, but no action was taken to prevent the attack.

Meanwhile, vigils are being held for the writer's death in some parts of the country.