Nov 7, 2006

Insulting the King and the State

Tyranny and stupidity go hand-in-hand and unfortunately both flourish in the Arab world. Sometimes you wonder how far, just how far, can these regimes go without no one saying anything, and I think, very far. Take this ambiguous law in Jordan - and most other Arab countries - that forbids "insulting the King, Queen or the government", why can't the king or the government be insulted? But more importantly, what constitutes an insult? You might wonder why isn't anyone opposing such laws, well, if you do that then "you're insulting the king and the state because you approve of them being insulted" - you're in trouble.

The other day, Adnan Abu Odeh, one of the most prominent Jordanian politicians (head of Jordan's Royal Court and former Minister of Information for the late king Hussein) had an interview with Aljazeera in which he discussed - among other things - how Palestinian-Jordanians face discrimination. That's nothing new, he wrote that in a book sometime ago and it isn't secret by any means in Jordan or outside (for example, the top two football teams Faisaliya and Wihdat are Palastinian and Jordanain and are fierce rivals because of that). However, there was an uproar among Jordanian politicians and government officials, and some filed court cases against Abu Odeh, on what grounds? inciting ethnic hatred and guess under what law, you got it, insulting the king and the state.

? How was that an insult to the king? How about that for a democracy and a caring government. Well, to be fair, this is the case in most Arab countries (and much of Africa). I should point out that they didn't get upset when he published the book, but because he spoke on Aljazeera, it's unforgivable. Finally, The government threw the case against Abu Odeh out - yes the government, not the court - but not all Jordanians are that lucky, some are taken to prison - sometimes without any charges - and I don't need to point out that Jordan is renowned for torture - a place where the use of torture isn't debate (Jordan is in a close race with Egypt as the torture capital of the world).

I'm still wonder who proposed this law? Did the king wake up one day and say " emmm ... how about if we make it illegal to insult me", just a thought.

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