Nahed Hattar shot dead ahead of cartoon trial
A GUNMAN has shot dead prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar outside a court where he was facing charges for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, state news agency Petra reported.
Hattar was struck by three bullets before the assailant was arrested yesterday, Petra said. Witnesses said that a man had opened fire in front of the court in Amman’s Abdali district.
The 56-year-old Christian was arrested on August 13 after posting a caricature on his Facebook account that depicted a beared man in heaven smoking in bed with women, asking God to bring him wine and cashews.
He removed the cartoon shortly thereafter, saying “it mocks terrorists and their concept of God and heaven. It does not infringe God’s divinity in any way”. It is not known who produced the cartoon. However, many Jordanian Muslims considered it offensive and against their religion. The authorities said Hatter violated the law by widely sharing the caricature.
He was charged with inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam before being released on bail in early September.
Sara Williams, a Jordan-based journalist, told Al Jazeera that Hattar had been detained in the past over critical postings about the Jordan’s king.
“The was not his first brush with the law but people I have spoken to are shocked about today’s events,” Williams said.
“This morning, outside the hospital where mister Hattar’s body was taken, some family members of his were screaming in rage at the interior ministry, which is responsible for security, and particularly cursing the minister of interior.
“A cousin said to me that the family would be calling for the resignation of the government because they see this assassination as a result of the negligence of Jordan’s security services.”
The backlash against Hattar was immediate with Jordanian social media users lambasting the writer for purposely causing offence to Muslims.
Social media users also called on the government to question and arrest Hattar, and some attacked him for being Christian and a secularist.
Attempting to explain his motive for sharing the cartoon, Hattar said that he did not intend to cause offence to Muslims and wanted the cartoon to “expose” the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and the Muslim Brotherhood.