World View: Murder of Jordan Writer Exposes Fault Line Between Secularists and Muslim Brotherhood

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Writer Nahed Hattar, accused of blasphemy, gunned down in Amman, Jordan
  • Nahed Hattar shooting exposes Jordan’s secularist vs Muslim Brotherhood fault line

Writer Nahed Hattar, accused of blasphemy, gunned down in Amman, Jordan

A mourner holds up a photo of Nahed Hattar, who was murdered on Sunday (Reuters)
A mourner holds up a photo of Nahed Hattar, who was murdered on Sunday (Reuters)

Nahed Hattar, 56, a controversial satirical writer in Jordan, was gunned down on Sunday in front of a courthouse where he had been on trial for blasphemy for posting a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam. He was shot by Riad Abdullah, 49, a conservative Muslim and former imam, thought to be a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hattar, self-described as a Christian atheist, was arrested on August 15 on charges of insulting religion in a satirical cartoon posted on Facebook. He intended for his cartoon to expose the hypocrisy of jihadists in the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The cartoon was captioned “In paradise,” and depicted an ISIS jihadist in a tent in bed with two woman.

A bearded Allah opens the flap of the tent, and has this conversation with the jihadist:

Allah: “May your evening be joyous, Abu Saleh, do you need anything?”

Jihadist: “Yes Lord, bring me the glass of wine from over there and tell Jibril [the Angel Gabriel] to bring me some cashews. After that send me an eternal servant to clean the floor and take the empty plates with you.”

Jihadist continues: “Don’t forget to put a door on the tent so that you knock before you enter next time, your gloriousness.”

The phrase “Your gloriousness” (“Subhanekh”) is considered insulting because it’s a play on the word for “Glory be to Allah” (“Subhanallah”). To see the actual cartoon, click on the “Clarion Project” link below.

Hattar was extremely controversial not only because he was a secularist and an atheist, but also because he was a strong supporter of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, and a critic of ISIS and al-Qaeda.

So far, Jordan has escaped the worst of the sectarian and ethnic violence that has occurred in other Mideast countries, although there have been some terrorist acts. The worst so far was an ISIS suicide car bombing near the Syrian border in June, killing seven Jordanian soldiers. Jordan reacted by closing the border with Syria.

Because of the blatant nature of Sunday’s attack in the heart of Amman, Jordan’s capital city, it’s feared that sectarian tensions between secularists and Islamists will increase, triggering tit-for-tat revenge attacks. Jordan Times and AP and Clarion Project (15-Aug)

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Nahed Hattar shooting exposes Jordan’s secularist vs Muslim Brotherhood fault line

The family of Nahed Hattar is blaming his murder on Jordan’s prime minister, Hani Mulki, for bringing him to trial on blasphemy charges in the first place, and for not protecting him from extremists. In a statement, the family said, “Many fanatics wrote on social media calling for his killing and lynching, and the government did nothing against them.”

In the aftermath of the shooting, Mulki and his cabinet were forced to resign. However, the King Abdullah of Jordan asked Mulki to stay on as a caretaker, and then to form a new government with a new cabinet.

However, Jordanian society is deeply split. Muslim Brotherhood MP Dima Tahboub wrote, “Seculars are the downfall of our society.”

One analyst said, “I am deeply disturbed by what has happened today, and even more by the fact that some people are celebrating the murder on social media.”

Other tweets include the following:

“The ugliness that lurks within the Jordanian masses rears its head in the response to the assassination of #NahedHattar.”

“To hell and good riddance, God bless the shooter, (We) are a people God is proud of.”

“I disagree with Nahed Hattar’s ideas, but I’m afraid for my country and my children after seeing all the tweets that have come out welcoming his killing!”

Jordan’s King Abdullah was interviewed on Sunday on CBS’s 60 Minutes, but the interview had been recorded before Hattar’s murder. Petra (Jordan government) and Al Bawaba and Middle East Eye and 60 Minutes

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Jordan, Nahed Hattar, Riad Abdullah, Muslim Brotherhood, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh Hani Mulki, King Abdullah, Dima Tahboub
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