(photo credit: Courtesy)
Mudar Zahran, a Palestinian writer and academic from Jordan who has written op-eds for The Jerusalem Post, was indicted in a Jordanian court for incitement and damaging the image of Jordan.
“The court has indicted me for the crime of ‘inciting hatred and attacking Jordan’s image and the image of its one nation,’” Zahran told the Post.
The indictment also mentions that since his arrival in the UK, he started writing in Israeli newspapers.
However, Zahran said, “the only Israeli newspaper I write for is The Jerusalem Post.”
“Zahran’s social networking sites carry articles and phrases offensive to Jordan and his own people,” and he will be tried in absentia, stated an article on Saturday in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad.
If found guilty, he would be sentenced to three years in prison, according to the report.
Asked if he really has a serious following in Jordan, he said that the evidence of that is “the fact that the king has targeted me out of all his opposition. It is a statement that I am a real threat to the king.”
When the king falls, seculars or the Brotherhood will come to power, he asserted, adding that it depends who the US would support.
“I fear that my country will become another Egypt,” he said.
Zahran worked at the Australian and then the American Embassy in Amman before he left for England. However, Zahran said, he was very politically active before he arrived in London. “I was active in my father’s political party and had to quit for my job,” he said.
The party, Al-Ansar, was outlawed in 2008.
Zahran, a Muslim, has been calling in his work and TV appearances for a secular state and full civil rights in Jordan.
He says that he strongly opposes the Islamists and supports a peaceful change of the regime in Amman.
Zahran complains that while he is being persecuted by the regime, the Muslim Brotherhood is a registered charity and political party, active in many of the country’s mosques.
“The Muslim Brotherhood preachers are allowed by the king’s government to popularize hatred against Jews, Israelis, and they speak openly about destroying Israel and non-Muslims,” he said.
Zahran has publicly described Jordan as an apartheid regime that resembles that of South Africa.
Jordan openly discriminates against Palestinians, he said.
The government-controlled media has been celebrating the indictment, he said, and commentators have called Zahran a Zionist.
Renowned Jordanian journalist Taghreed al-Rishik, tweeted, “It is about time to deal with such people, the charge of inciting hatred has been given to ‘Israel’s dear friend,’ Mudar Zahran.”
She also tweeted to Zahran that he should be ashamed for supporting “Israeli apartheid.”
In August, Zahran spoke at the Begin Heritage Center and was introduced by former MK Arieh Eldad.
Kirk Sowell, the Amman-based principal of Uticensis Risk Services, a Middle East-focused political risk firm, told the Post, ”In Jordan, the law allows even peaceful activism to be prosecuted in the State Security Court if one is accused of trying to ‘undermine the system of governance.’” He said that Zahran’s New Jordan Party "appears to have some support among Palestinians but no significant weight in the kingdom."
“Zahran is being prosecuted for openly attacking the king, which is illegal here, but there are a number of individuals being prosecuted right now ” said Sowell, adding that the Brotherhood never says the kinds of things Zahran does, and if they did, “they would be banned.”