Emad Hajjaj cartoon under investigation
Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj is under investigation for insulting religion for a cartoon that was published (screenshot) on Sunday 29 October 2017 on abumahjoobnews.com and has since been taken down.
The image shows a crucified Christ and the caption:
"I am Christ, the son of Mary, and I disown Patriarch Theophilos III (1) and all those who participated with him in the sale of the noble Greek Orthodox Church to the Israeli occupation."
After his publication, he received insults and even death threats.
Hajjaj, while apologising, insists that the cartoon refers to the controversy that singles out the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem for the sale of large plots of land in the city, as well as in Caesarea, Jaffa and Tiberias to offshore companies. The land is believed to have been sold at very low prices to settler groups and companies whose owners' identities are unknown because they are registered in tax havens. ( + Info)
The cartoon angered both Christians and Muslims. For Christians it was an insult to a holy symbol and some Muslims were also upset by the depiction of a prophet, which is forbidden in Islam and because they do not believe that Jesus was crucified . Some called the cartoonist (who is a Muslim) an infidel.
They even went so far as to suggest that the cartoonist deserved the same fate as Nahed Hattar (2), the Jordanian writer who was shot dead in September 2016 in front of the court where he was on trial for disseminating a cartoon Read story.
On Tuesday 31 October theAmman public prosecutor summoned Emad Hajjaj forquestioning.
According to Mahmoud Quteishat(3), the cartoonist's lawyer, the prosecutor heard the testimony of the cartoonist and the person who filed the complaint. The prosecutor, who did not order the cartoonist's arrest, will now hear other witnesses and decide whether to take the matter to court.
If he is eventually charged with insulting religion, provoking sectarian strife and found guilty, he could be sentenced to three years in prison.
It has always been a mixture of curiosity and half-laughter for me to hear that someone is going to be investigated for a cartoon. I can't imagine what exactly such an investigation consists of, let alone that there are people in charge of doing that, but above all that there are still laws that allow people to be convicted for their opinions about what others believe in.
Eight reasons for conflict and lawsuits against cartoonists
From 102 cases consulted, the first and foremost cause of complaints and claims against cartoonists is their views on political issues, followed by religion, a close second.
In third place are complaints about insults to traditions, folklore, flags and other official symbols of nations. In fourth place are racism and xenophobia.
In fifth place are male chauvinism, homophobia and other issues related to sexuality. Sixth place is taken by claims of libel, slander and insult to honour, many of them brought or promoted by prominent political figures.
Seventh place goes to complaints from companies about the use of their brand or image, and lastly to complaints about plagiarism.
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