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Activists plan to sue former MP for ‘defamatory remarks’ against ICT minister

By Mohammad Ghazal - Mar 07,2015 - Last updated at Mar 07,2015

AMMAN — Activists in Jordan are gathering signatures for an online petition to file a lawsuit against a former MP for allegedly offending the recently appointed ICT minister by publishing a personal photo of her on Facebook.

Some 2,172 activists signed the petition online to file a lawsuit against former deputy Ali Dalaeen who last week posted a private picture of ICT Minister Majd Shweikeh in an evening gown at a wedding party. 

The former MP criticised Shweikeh’s dress.

“In the past, such photos were considered pornography and published in porn magazines, and those shown in the pictures were punished, and at present those in the picture are public figures,” Dalaeen said, commenting on the picture.

“The MP offended Shweikeh by publishing a personal picture of her with family, and he used vulgar and improper words to comment on it. This has offended us all,” the activists said in a petition addressed to the attorney general and published online.

In the statement, the activists urged the attorney general to take the necessary legal action against Dalaeen and to prevent the recurrence of such offences.

“Jordan is a state that enjoys the rule of law and we have no doubt that the judiciary will look into this issue and take necessary action in line with the Constitution,” the statement read.

Many activists who signed the petition called for swift action against the former Karak MP’s offensive remarks.

“What [Dalaeen] published is a personal picture with the family. He has no right to criticise the picture. The law should protect the privacy of people; otherwise, there will be chaos, and there will be slander and defamation,” Rima Abbassy said in a comment on the petition’s page online.

Raghda Kurdi made similar comments, saying the former MP “has no right to use a photo which was taken outside the minister’s working hours and he has no right to pass judgment on a professional person based on her clothes”.

Nidal Rabadi, another Jordanian who signed the petition, wrote: “What Dalaeen said is a violation of national norms. This is judgmental, an intrusion and has nothing to do with noble values in Jordan.”

“He should be ashamed of himself,” Rabadi added.

In a column published Saturday, Al Ghad Chief Editor Jumana Ghneimat slammed the former MP for his offensive remarks.

What he wrote about Shweikeh, she said, offends all Jordanian men and women and “calls for immediate legal action against him”, Ghneimat wrote.

She criticised the trend of judging women ministers based on their looks rather than their performance as “backward and retarded”.

“I personally don’t know the former MP and don’t want to know him, but what he said about the minister crossed common decency rules and does not fall under acceptable political criticism,” the chief editor said.

Akeed, an online platform that monitors the credibility of local media outlets (akeed.jo), said on Thursday that several local news websites published private photos of Shweikeh without her permission, in violation of media ethics and her privacy.

Publishing photos of the minister while in her capacity as a private citizen has no news value and offers no new information to readers, Akeed said.

Article 4 of the Press and Publications Law stipulates that the media should practise their mission to offer news, information and commentary freely within the limitations of the law and within the framework of respecting the sanctity of other individuals’ private lives, according to Akeed.

Article 11 of journalists’ code of ethics also calls for respecting the reputation of families and individuals, and the secrecy of private matters concerning citizens.

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