A prominent Jordanian Christian writer has been shot and killed on the steps of a courthouse in the capital city of Amman. He was entering the building to face charges for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam.
In August, Nahed Hattar shared on his personal Facebook page a caricature depicting a bearded man in heaven, smoking in bed with two women, asking God to bring him wine and cashews. According to Hattar, the cartoon was intended to “make fun of terrorists and how they imagine God and heaven”.
After widespread outrage on social media, Hattar removed the cartoon from his Facebook page and apologised for posting it.
“It is tragic when violence and intimidation are used as weapons to silence dissenting voices.”
Hattar, a Christian and anti-Islamist activist, was arrested on August 13 on charges of contempt of religion and inciting sectarian strife. Jordanian authorities say Hatter violated the law by sharing the cartoon.
But as he entered the courthouse on Sunday 25 September, Hattar was shot with three bullets. He died at the scene.
The New York Times reports that in an interview only hours after the shooting, his wife Randa Kakish-Hattar said, “I saw his lifeless, blood-drained body just now. His two children saw him shot and killed before their eyes. And for what? For sharing a cartoon on Facebook?”
The Jordanian government condemned the attack and vowed to take action against the perpetrators.
In a statement, government spokesperson Mohammad Momani said, “We will hold the perpetrator who committed this despicable act to justice, and the government will respond with an iron fist to anyone who uses this incident as an opportunity to spread hate speech in society.”
An Australian living in Amman, who cannot be identified, told Eternity, “it is a sad day for the country of Jordan and its people. It is tragic when violence and intimidation are used as weapons to silence dissenting voices. The killing of Nahed Hattar is a tragedy. We continue to pray for his family during this time.”
This is not the first time cartoonists have been targeted by terrorists. An attack on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 left 12 dead, including four prominent cartoonists.