Jordanian writers protest indictment of poet on religious grounds
The Jordanian Writers Association (JWA) on Wednesday blasted the indictment of Jordanian poet Islam Samhan for allegedly insulting Islam after using verses from the holy Koran in his love poetry, and called for his release, dpa reported.
Similar calls were also made by the Amman-based Centre for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) and the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).
The 27-year-old poet, who works for the independent daily paper Alarab Alyawm, was referred to the court earlier this week by the Press and Publication Department (PPD) after accusing him of violating the Press and Publication Law in his newly published poem collection "Grace Like a Shadow."
Samhan, who was arrested on Sunday, denied the charges, saying that he had no intention to offend Islam or the Koran, according to judicial sources.
JWA chairman Saoud Qbeilat expressed disappointment over Samhan's detention and indictment as a "strange decision and serious development ... Such a measure is likely to suppress freedom and creativity."
Qbeilat also protested a fatwa (religious judgment) issued by the Kingdom's mufti Nouh Qudah, the country's top religious authority, who labelled Samhan as an "infidel" and described the use of Koranic verses in his poem collection as an act of "blasphemy."
PPD Director General Nabil Momani said that there was more than one reason behind referring Samhan to the public prosecutor's office.
He said Samhan's book was printed by an unlicensed press and thus the writer violated the article 35 of the Press and Publication Law, which stipulates that the writer or publisher of any book that is printed or published in the country should submit an advance copy to the PPD.
He said that the book also violated the law's article 38 which prohibits the publication of any material that entails libel, slander or insult to any religion, in line with the constitution.
"The issue is in the hands of the judiciary and we accept whatever ruling the court issues," Momani said.