Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Article 150

Although I am immensely happy that our four terror sympathizers are due to spend a couple of weeks in Al Jafer, I think it is important to give due consideration to the objections raised as to the propriety of legal action to suppress free expression, especially by politicians.

I am intrigued by the use of article 150 of the penal code for this purpose. This article, as translated by yours truly, states:

"Any writing, speech or work which is intended or has the effect inciting sectarian or racial strife or encourages conflict between communities and various elements of the nation will be punished for a period of no less than six months and up to three years and with a fine not exceeding 500 JD".

It is noteworthy that this is the same article that journalists are afraid of, as it has been used against them on numerous occasions. Much of the fear from this article stems from the loose phraseology, and the ability to interpret terms such as "inciting" or "encouraging" loosely.

For example, in 2003, three journalists from the Al Hilal weekly newspaper were convicted under this article, after they published a feature entitled "Aisha in the Prophet’s home". The IAF had mounted a campaign against them, issuing a fatwa declaring them apostates. The IAF was satisfied with this sentence, suggesting that they are not against article 150 in principle. More recently, Rhail Gharaibeh, the spokesman for the IAF, declared that the party is all for free speech, as long as it didn't violate a long list of prohibitions, beginning with "not offending anybody". This is quite in line with their tacit approval of article 150.

Calling a terrorist who was responsible for killing thousands of innocent civilians a martyr can be easily construed as both justifying his actions and thus encouraging others to emulate his behavior. Thus it logically fits into the definition of incitement in ways that are more evident than when they were used in the past.

So, the question is whether the IAF parliamentarians are above a law that they themselves condone and have approved of in the past. Despite all the political arguments, I would say that not enforcing the law sends a terrible message. The case should be decided by the courts, not politicians.

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At 3:58 AM, Blogger Lina said...

Even if it feels good that they get a taste of their own medicine and be arrested based on a law they themselves implicitly condoned.. that doesn't make it right! I agree with Abu Aardvark, let public anger take care of it, but where do you draw the line for government intervention when it doesn't like what you're saying??

Maybe it's too ideal, but sometimes we have to uphold the ideals we believe in and the democracy we crave and call for.. even if the outcomes are not to our liking!

At 5:53 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Lina: The IAF is opposing the new terrorism law under the excuse that the current legal tools available are enough. Are we to simply allow continued preaching of hatred and violence? I don't feel this is some hypothetical dreamland scenario. It is real life. Gullible young adults do take these guys seriously, and many are willing to kill and die on instructions from people like this. Doesn't that concern you?

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Lina said...

Of course it concerns me! I've just graduated from university and I've seen many of my colleagues turn into "shyoukh" and completely follow the IAF.. it's deeply worrying! But the government needs to be very careful from giving them the benefit of presenting themselves as victims of government repression and undemocratic practices. Quite often they gain support just because people don't trust the government.

Arresting them is not the solution. There are many others out there like them who preach the same message. The anti-terrorism law is not the answer either. That said, I'm not sure what would be the most effective way of balancing their tide and limiting their influence... but I strongly believe that true democratic reform will eventually get us there.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Lina: A great reason for the strength of the Islamsits is that they have played by different sets of rules all along. A balanced political scene requires everybody to play by the same rules. Granted, the rules that everybody else plays by are more restrictive than what the Islamists are used to. However, the Islamists themselves helped set these rules. Let them live by them. If they don't like these rules, then they should work to change them. Maybe if they are treated to their own medicine they will move towards becoming a true force for democracy.

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there was no article in the law to arrest them, we should add. If there were no prisons for them we should build. If they have immunity we should dissolve the parliament. Those bastrad belong to jail and no where else. Let them rot and never give them any pardon so that they want turn into another Zarqawi. I just wish I was a minister of interior. Democracy can go to hell if it means allowing such savages to praise someone who killed thousands of people. The red line for me is the life of innocents and democracy comes second.

At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind a few comments from an Anglo Christian (culturally not religiously). You have an outstanding blog.

I am reminded of a recent poll (by Gallup I think) that 100% of Jordanians disapproved of America and it's actions in the region. This was remarkable to me because I had never seen a 100% result in any poll. Frankly I dissapprove as well but the the poll was disheartening to say the least. Your blog has forced me to reassess my bias of the region; namely that plurality is doomed.

I compare the current state in your region to the American south in the 100 years following our Civil War. There was a radical, reactionary movement that could not let go of white, male hegemony. Terror was unleashed against those who threatened that hegemony. It was a slow and arduous process to marginalize this movement. At one point, in some communities 100% of all white males belonged to the KKK. The marginalization of this movement began during the Great Depression during the presidency of FDR. There was very little attempt by the government to suppress this movement (until the 1950s at least). What marginalized this movement was a cultural change. Newspapers, intellectuals and the like shamed white southerners into changing their views (or at least drove it underground).

Thanks for this opportunity to share my views.

At 5:15 AM, Blogger الخليج العربي Arabian Gulf said...

nice blog ,thats my first vist :) .
about IFA i agree with u .
good luck ya 3ajlouny ,i will try always to vist ur blog ,so keep on ur work .

At 5:51 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Mr. Cotter: Thank you for your insight. I agree that all forms of prejudice and extremism should be fought through ideas, as cultural rejection of such views is key to defeating them.

Oday: Thanks, man.


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