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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jordanian writer killed outside court before trial over ‘Islam-insulting’ cartoon

Sun Sep 25, 2016 | 7:34 AM EDT Jordanian writer shot dead outside court before trial over cartoon ‹ An ambulance transports the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar to a medical facility after he was shot dead in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 6/6 An ambulance transports the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar to a medical facility after he was shot dead in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 1/6 Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 2/6 Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed An ambulance transports the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar to a medical facility, after he was shot, in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 3/6 An ambulance transports the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar to a medical facility, after he was shot, in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 4/6 Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed An ambulance transports the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar to a medical facility after he was shot dead in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 5/6 An ambulance transports the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar to a medical facility after he was shot dead in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed An ambulance transports the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar to a medical facility after he was shot dead in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 6/6 An ambulance transports the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar to a medical facility after he was shot dead in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 1/6 Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed › Jordanian writer shot dead outside court before...X By Suleiman Al-Khalidi | AMMAN A gunman shot dead Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar on Sunday outside the court where he was to stand trial on charges of contempt of religion after sharing on social media a caricature seen as insulting Islam, witnesses and state media said. The gunman was arrested at the scene, state news agency Petra said. A security source said he was a 39-year-old Muslim preacher in a mosque in the capital. Hattar, a Christian and a anti-Islamist activist who was a supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was arrested last month after he shared a caricature that depicted a bearded man in heaven smoking in bed with women and 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. Many conservative Muslim Jordanians considered Hattar's move offensive and against their religion. The authorities said he violated the law by sharing the caricature. The state news agency quoted a security source as saying Hattar was killed by a man who fired three shots at him on the steps of the palace of justice in the Jordanian capital. ADVERTISEMENT . "The assailant was arrested and investigations are ongoing," Petra quoted the security source as saying. Two witnesses said the gunman was wearing a traditional Arab dishashada, worn by ultra conservative Sunni Salafis who adhere to a puritanical version of Islam and shun Western lifestyles. Some secular and liberal supporters of Hattar said his arrest last month was a breach of freedom of speech but other Jordanians thought the caricature's publication had crossed a red line in a Muslim country where it is a taboo to attack God or the Prophet. Hattar was charged with contempt of religion and sowing sectarian tensions. The country's highest official religious fatwa authority criticized Hattar for what it said was the "insult to the divine entity, Islam and religious symbols". Hattar had apologized on social media and said he did not mean to insult God but had shared the cartoon to mock fundamentalist Sunni radicals and what he said was their vision of God and heaven. He had accused his Islamist opponents of using the cartoon to settle scores with him. Hattar also supported restricting the rights and privileges of Jordanians of Palestinian descent. The Jordanian government condemned the attack. "The law will be strictly enforced on the culprit who did this criminal act and will hit with an iron fist anyone who tries to harm state of law," government spokesman Mohammad Momani said. The moderate Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group also warned against a flare up in religious and sectarian tensions in a country in which Jordanian Christians are a minority but wield wide political and economic influence. (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Louise Heavens ==================================== Published time: 25 Sep, 2016 12:06 Get short URL Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. © Muhammad Hamed Jordanian police stand guard in front of a hospital where the body of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, was held in Amman, Jordan, September 25, 2016. © Muhammad Hamed / Reuters A prominent Jordanian Christian writer and staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad has been shot dead outside a court in central Amman which indicted him over sharing a cartoon online deemed “offensive” to Islam and Muslims. Nahed Hattar was assassinated in front the Palace of Justice, home to Jordan’s Supreme Court, in Amman on Sunday morning. He was shot three times in the head, according to the Petra news agency. Security officers of Public Security Department (PSD) who were on the scene arrested the gunman and seized his weapon, and took Hattar to a nearby hospital, where he apparently died. Security authorities said that the assassination is yet to be investigated, but Hattar’s background could possibly add fuel to sectarian strife in a country which evaded 2011 Arab Spring unrest and has a reputation of one of the most secular and pro-Western states throughout the Middle East. Earlier in August, Hattar was charged over sharing a cartoon on his Facebook page. The caricature depicted God in paradise, being treated as a servant by an Arabic-looking man, who is in bed with two women and asking for wine and cashews. The cartoon, created by an unknown author, sparked fury among many Muslims and was quickly deleted from the page. Later, Saed Hattar, a relative of the writer, said that the cartoon was shared to portray the true nature of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) extremists and had nothing to do with insulting other Muslims. Hattar himself tried to explain in one of his subsequent Facebook posts that the cartoon was to illustrate how Islamists perceive notions of God and Heaven. Read more Reuters/Eric Gaillard​Charlie Hebdo cartoonist: ‘I will no longer draw Mohammed’ “Those who became angry at the cartoon are the kind of people who did not get the point,” he wrote, according to the Jordan Times, adding that Islamists with an IS-like mindset are employing the cartoon to settle political scores. The explanation did not prove effective, with Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki ordering an investigation. Hattar turned himself in to authorities and spent some time in Amman’s Marka prison pending a probe into inciting ‘sectarian strife and racism’, according to Petra news agency. Jordan is one of the closest allies of Washington in the region and participant of the US-led operation against IS. The tiny kingdom reined by the British-educated King Abdullah II founds itself in a troubled neighborhood, bordering war-torn Syria. Earlier this year, the king said the population has been “at the boiling point” due to the influx of hundreds of thousands refugees to his country. Jordan has been accepting refugees from Palestine and Iraq for decades and now asylum-seekers from Syria make up nearly 20 percent of the country’s population.

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