A prominent Christian Jordanian writer was shot dead earlier this week in front of a courthouse, where he had been on trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam. There were no immediate details on the identity or motive of the gunman, but a Jordanian security source told TV7 that the shooter, who was immediately arrested, was a 39-year-old Muslim preacher of one of the mosques in Jordan’s capital, Amman.
In response to the killing, some 200 protesters gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s office, speaking out against violence and extremism in the Western-backed Hashemite Kingdom. “Freedom of speech is absolute, as long as you have committed no crimes. Nahed Hattar did not draw the caricature, he only shared it. This cartoon refers to the god of Daesh, not to the God of muslims, so I do not think he committed a crime by sharing this caricature,” said Omar Atout, Lawyer and Activist. “The purpose of us being here is to prove that the voice of freedom must remain alive, the Jordanian voice of freedom. Regardless of sects or beliefs or sex or any other considerations, the voice of Jordanians must reign free, without assassinations,” said Nancy Shahateet, Protester.
The victim, Naher Hattar, a Christian and an anti-Islamist activist, was arrested last month after sharing on social media a caricature depicting a bearded man in heaven smoking in bed with women and asking God to bring him wine and clear his dishes, a picture Many of Jordan’s conservative Muslims considered as deeply offensive. Nevertheless, the assassination of Hattar is a rare incident in the US-backed Arab kingdom, whose relative stability has distinguished it from war-ravaged neighbors such as Syria and Iraq. Before his murder, Hattar had apologized on social media and said he did not mean to insult God but had shared the cartoon to mock fundamentalist Sunni-Muslim radicals and what he said was their vision of God and heaven.