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Writer turns himself in after cartoon sparks outrage

By Mohammad Ghazal - Aug 13,2016 - Last updated at Aug 13,2016

Nahed Hattar

AMMAN — Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar turned himself in to the Amman governor on Saturday after Prime Minister Hani Mulki ordered an investigation into a cartoon the journalist shared on Facebook.

Amman Governor Khaled Abu Zeid listened to Hattar’s statement in the presence of his lawyer and ordered his detention pending his referral to the specialised judicial authority, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Mulki on Friday asked Interior Minister Salameh Hammad to investigate the incident and to summon Hattar through the administrative governor for legal procedures.

Hattar sparked outrage on Friday after sharing a caricature on his Facebook page depicting a bearded man in heaven, smoking and in bed with women, asking God to bring him wine and cashews.

In the cartoon, the man also asks God to clear his dishes and put a door on his tent and knock before entering 

Social media users said the cartoon was insulting and accused Hattar of crossing red lines. 

Media expert Khaled Qudah said Hattar had violated the law by sharing the cartoon.

“What Hattar republished is insulting and is not considered freedom of expression. He can be immediately detained for violating the law,” Qudah told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

“Hattar can be detained pending further investigation for violating article 150 of the Penal Code that bans contempt of religions and also for violating the Electronic Crimes Law,” he added.

“What Hattar did incites hatred and sectarianism and may cause division... Preserving national security and social harmony and the public interest comes before freedom of expression even in international law.” 

Also on Saturday, the Ifta Department issued a statement criticising the insult to the divine entity, Islam and religious symbols.

The department said a group of people had taken advantage of the calls to fight violence and extremism, and that they were offending religious symbols and defaming Islam under the pretext of combating violence, Petra reported.

“This group of people is no less extreme than the extremists and radicals themselves.... This group of people fuels extremism and sows seeds of sedition in the community,” the department said.

Early Saturday, before turning himself in, Hattar published an apology on Facebook page, explaining that the cartoon depicted the “God of Daesh”.  

He said he shared the cartoon to mock terrorists, and how they view heaven and God. It was not meant to insult God, he added. 

“Those who became angry at the cartoon are the kind of people who did not get the point,” Hattar said, adding that Islamists with a Daesh- like ideology are using the cartoon to settle political scores.  

Meanwhile, several Twitter users called for legal action to be taken against the writer, tweeting using the hashtag “Nahed Hattar does not represent us” in Arabic. 

“He should be imprisoned. We will not accept anything other than this”, tweeted Nart Mola (@nmola).

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Comments

Sad that i have to share this planet with people who have the mental fortitude of children and who get insulted by cartoons.

What this article does not mention is that "The god of Daesh" was the title of the cartoon. Mr. Hattar did not just add it after the outrage. The entire point of the cartoon was to mock ISIS's hideous notion of god.

It is time to act like modern civilised humans. Common sense tells you that an ideology cannot be insulted, only petty people.

Jordan is a beacon for reasonable thought in the region. The best way to respond to speech that one finds offensive is more speech, not enforced silence.

WHILE I HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT GOD IS SUPREME AND SHOULD NOT BE SUBJECT OF ANY FORM OF JOKES, THE FACT THAT IN THE INTERNATIONAL LAW, THIS IS NOT A CRIME. I DO NOT AND WILL NOT UNDER ANY REASON JOKE WITH ANY FAITH OR RELIGION OF OTHERS BUT FOR MY IN LAWS IN JORDAN TO GET INTO THIS GAME OF DISTRACTION OUT OF THEIR USUAL REGARDS FOR PEOPLE WHO CROSSES THE RED LINE OF SILLY IS A NEW DEVELOPMENT THAT CAN EASILY GO VIRAL IN SOME SILLY CHAT ROOMS. THE GOVERNOR SURELY DO HAVE BETTER THINGS AND MUCH MORE PROJECTS TO REFINE AND REFORM THAN WASTING HIS TIME AND RESOURCES IN PROSECUTING CLAWNS. JORDAN IS NOT LIKE THIS AND WE DO NOT WANT GO DOWN THIS ROAD.

People who think that GOD can be insulted by anything a human may do have a very small concept of GOD.

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