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Jordan bill criminalizing religious defamation approved in upper house

[JURIST] The upper house of the Jordanian parliament [official website] on Wednesday approved a bill that imposes stiff fines for journalists who defame any religion protected under the country's constitution [text] - i.e. Islam, Christianity or Judaism - or "offending the prophets" by writing or cartoons. The upper house dropped a controversial provision, approved by the lower house [JURIST report] earlier this month, that would have subjected journalists to jail time for the offenses. Other crimes under the bill include insulting "religious sentiments and beliefs, fueling sectarian strife or racism," and slandering or libeling any person. The Jordanian Press Association [official website] criticized the earlier version of the bill for weakening press freedom. AP has more.

In May 2006 a Jordanian court convicted the editors of two national newspapers [JURIST report] and sentenced them to two months' imprisonment for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad [JURIST news archive] that incited protests and violence across the Muslim world earlier in the year after first appearing in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten [media website] in September 2005.

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