Journey through Jordan: Day 18

Day 18


For the first time in Jordan, I awoke to news with no positive spin in sight.

This morning, before I’d even eaten breakfast, prominent Jordanian writer, Nahed Hattar, was shot dead outside the courthouse in Amman.

It happened just five minutes away from my hotel.

Hattar was set to go to trial for a Facebook posting he’d made earlier this summer. It was a cartoon caricature that was deemed offensive to Islam.

The posting depicted a bearded man in heaven, surrounded by women, asking God to bring him cashews and wine.

The Christian writer posted the cartoon to Facebook, but received intense backlash, and later took it down, saying it was meant to show the extreme religious views of ISIS members.

The damage was done though.

Hattar showed up for his trial today, and was shot in the head by what authorities are calling a man with extremist views.

The gunman was quickly arrested outside the courthouse and taken into custody.

Hattar’s death has since sparked an intense social media storm.

Today I actually saw firsthand what the journalists in my workshop were talking about when it comes to the limits on freedom of speech.

Many of them expressed concern today over Facebook – where is the line drawn when it comes to freedom of expression? What posting will land them in trouble? How much opinion is too much opinion? Is journalism or writing still safe?

I’m curious to see what the mood will be here this week, with my time winding down in Jordan.

Will there be a sense of fear in the air? Will people back down from covering tough stories?

Tomorrow will be a test of that, when Ezz Natour and I head to Baqa’a Refugee Camp, to cover the story he pitched in my first week here in Amman.

He’s set up an interview with the family of a man who left the camp to join ISIS.

I’m intrigued by the topic at hand, because it’s something I’ve never personally looked at or reported on.

Extremism is a difficult subject to cover, but a very topical one, and Ezz is a great journalist who isn’t afraid to go after the tough stories.

That’s what journalism is all about after all, being unafraid of the stories you encounter, and digging deep to uncover the truth.


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