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Jordan lawmakers approve bill to jail journalists for defaming religions

[JURIST] The lower house of the Jordanian parliament [official website] approved a bill Sunday that would subject journalists to jail sentences for defaming any religion protected under the country's constitution [text] - i.e. Islam, Christianity or Judaism - or "offending the prophets" by their writing or by cartoons. Imprisonment could also result from any "insult to religious sentiments and beliefs, fueling sectarian strife or racism," or "slanders or libels" against any individual. Journalists could also be fined for publications offensive to "prophets and religions." The legislation now goes to Jordan's upper house. The Jordanian Press Association [official website] has already criticized the measure as a weakening of press freedom. AFP 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 in September 2005.

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