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Momenoun Without Borders secretary general, relative given 2-year sentences

By Rana Husseini , Khalid Khawaja - Dec 06,2019 - Last updated at Dec 06,2019

AMMAN — The Amman Criminal Court on Thursday sentenced the Momenoun (believers) Without Borders (MWB) secretary general and his relative to two years in prison after convicting them of instigating sectarianism and inciting conflicts within the society.

MWB Secretary General Younis Qandil was reported missing by his family in November 2018 in the Tareq area and was later found in a forested area with torture and burn marks on different parts of his body.

Qandil then claimed that three hooded men abducted and tortured him because his organisation planned to hold a controversial religious seminar that was later cancelled by the government.

However, police investigations and a forensic report exposed his claims as false, after which Qandil confessed that he had staged the attack with the help of his relative to "gain sympathy from the public and to prevent any possible assaults against him".  

Qandil was one of the organisers of a conference on contemporary religious narratives, which was 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 of 2018 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 the 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”.

The verdict is subject to appeal at a higher court in the next 30 days.

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