Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Freedom of the press, Jordanian style

From Ma'an/AFP:
Jordan's Information Minister Taher Adwan said on Tuesday he has resigned because of laws he deemed "restrictive for freedom of expression."

"I submitted my resignation today to Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit in protest at a government decision" to debate new press and publication laws in parliament that he opposed, Adwan told AFP.

"In addition, MPs will debate proposed anti-corruption and penal laws. I consider these laws restrictive for freedom of expression."

King Abdullah II on Monday ordered parliament to convene in an extraordinary session from Wednesday to discuss a series of temporary laws.

Describing the proposed legislation as a "blow to the reform drive" and "martial laws," Adwan, who joined the government in February, condemned "the repeated attacks on journalists who are doing their professional duties."

"Such attacks completely contradict political reform efforts, which cannot be achieved without a democratic climate of press freedom," Adwan said in a statement to AFP.

Adwan has condemned an attack on AFP in which 10 men broke into its Amman offices on Wednesday and destroyed furniture and equipment, after the news agency was among several foreign media to report that part of the king's motorcade had been stoned during a visit to a southern city.

The reports were vigorously denied by the palace, government officials and MPs from the city.

"Violence against journalists and their offices cannot be justified, under the pretext of loyalty and nationalism," said Adwan, a veteran journalist who was the editor of Al-Arab Al-Yawm independent daily.
Here are details on last week's attack:
Ten men broke into AFP's offices in Jordan's capital on Wednesday and destroyed furniture, two days after the news agency was among several foreign media to report King Abdullah II's motorcade had been stoned.

"Ten men armed with sticks broke into the office and started to destroy everything in their way, the furniture and the equipment," said AFP journalist Kamal Taha who was alone in the office when the attack took place.

He said he managed to escape through a back door, before neighbours called the police who arrived after the attackers fled.

The attack came a few hours after AFP bureau chief Randa Habib received a threatening telephone call saying: "I will make you pay dearly," and accusing her of "undermining the security of Jordan."
You mean, in Jordan, government thugs threaten journalists and break into media offices and destroy stuff when they don't like the news stories?

No way! This is moderate Jordan we are talking about here!