Reporting on the assassination a week ago of prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, Hani Nahhas, above, of Alhadas Elyoum TV, told viewers that Hattar’s “blasphemy” did not count as free speech and that he deserved to ‘stand trial in God’s court.
They say [Hattar] is a martyr, killed for the sake of freedom of speech, but I do not think this way at all. You have the right to criticise a president, a prince, or a king, but you do not have the right to draw, to affront or to humiliate the Lord. I personally declare that I support the killing of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar..
Hattar was assassinated on the steps of an Amman courthouse, where he was to face charges for having shared a supposedly blasphemous cartoon on social media.
Nahed Hattar’s accused killer, it later emerged, was a 49-year-old former imam from an impoverished neighborhood in the Jordanian capital. The offending image, which had prompted his arrest and myriad death threats, depicted God checking in on an extremist militant in heaven.
Hattar, above, a secular Christian, was arrested in August for sharing a cartoon on his Facebook page titled “the God of Daesh”, an alternative name for the Islamic State militant group. The creator of the cartoon is unknown.
The drawing showed a bearded man, lying in bed under sheets, smoking contentedly beside two women in paradise and jabbing his finger toward God, who asks, “Do you need anything?” The man replies:
Yes, Lord, bring me wine, cashews and an immortal servant to come clean the floor.
Hattar also had been a steadfast backer of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a sympathy that would have won him both friends and enemies in Jordan’s fractured political landscape.
Egyptian secular blogger Nervana Mahmoud wrote:
Now Assad’s pundits are using Hattar’s murder to warn Jordanians about the futility of Jordan’s alliance with the United States and the increasing attacks by ISIS supporters inside the Kingdom.
In short, the murder of Nahed Hattar is a triumph of religious escapism, intellectual cowardice, and political manipulation in a region that has lost its moral compass and descended into a dark space where bad is fighting bad with bad, only to produce more ugliness and despair.
Hattar’s wife, Randa Kakish-Hattar, spoke to reporters hours after his death:
I saw his lifeless, blood-drained body just now. His two children saw him shot and killed before their eyes. And for what? For sharing a cartoon on Facebook?