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Author released on bail after detention over ‘insulting religious beliefs’

Otoum fined JD5,000, to appeal ruling on related lawsuit — lawyer

By Mohammad Ghazal - Dec 06,2016 - Last updated at Dec 06,2016

AMMAN — Jordanian writer Ayman Otoum was released on bail on Tuesday after being detained Monday on charges of insulting the religious beliefs and feelings of some segments in society.

The author was arrested late Monday in line with a court ruling that was issued in absentia, Mohammad Shalabi, his lawyer, told The Jordan Times.

“There was a lawsuit against Otoum in 2014 and he never received a notification that he needs to attend court hearings. Therefore, a decision was finally issued ordering his detention but he was bailed out,” the lawyer said.

The poet and novelist was charged with hurting religious sensibilities in a novel he wrote.

“The novel [in question] has nothing to do with religion or any religious feelings. It was about the relationship between Palestinians and Jordanians,” Shalabi said.

Otoum was fined JD5,000, but “we will appeal”, the lawyer added.

The Jordanian Writers Association (JWA) on Tuesday slammed his detention.

“Otoum was arrested on Monday and we are coordinating with his family and the lawyer to ensure his release,” JWA President Ziad Abu Laban told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

“We stand by the writer’s right to freedom of expression…Our Constitution guarantees freedom of opinion, and we support this right,” Abu Laban said.

The association, he added, rejects detention of writers over their opinions and views. 

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