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Gunman kills Jordanian writer charged over anti-Islam cartoon Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Gunman kills Jordanian writer charged over anti-Islam cartoon

Hattar was assassinated outside a court in Amman [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 September, 2016

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Prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar was assassinated on Sunday outside a court in Amman where he was facing charges for 'insulting Islam' after sharing a cartoon on his Facebook page.

A prominent Jordanian writer was shot dead on Sunday outside a court where he was facing charges for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, local media reported.

Nahed Hattar was shot three times in the head before the assailant was arrested, according to state news agency Petra.

The 56-year-old Christian turned himself in to the authorities in mid-August after they issued an arrest warrant for him for posting a cartoon mocking jihadis on his Facebook account.

He was charged with inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam before being released on bail in early September.

It is not clear who produced the cartoon, which depicted a fighter for the Islamic State group sitting next to two women in heaven and asking God to bring him wine.

Hattar, a controversial journalist and writer who is known for his support of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, removed the cartoon from his Facebook page following strong backlash.

He said that he did not intend to cause offence to Muslims, but wanted the cartoon to "expose" IS' views of God and heaven.

The cartoon made fun of "terrorists and how they imagine God and heaven, and does not insult God in any way", he explained.

Hattar's lawyer, Faisal al-Batayneh, accompanied him for questioning at the magistrate's office in Amman last month, but later withdrew from the case on religious grounds.

"Once I found out about the details of the case and about the offensive cartoon, I decided that my conscience and my commitment to the noble Islamic Sharia would not allow me to continue to represent Mr Hattar in this case," he said at the time.

According to Batayneh, this was not Hatter's first encounter with the authorities in Jordan, as he had previously been acquitted on a number of charges, including insulting the country's ruler, King Abdullah.

Until several years ago, Jordanian law did not include a penalty for those who insulted God, arguing that the divine entity would not require the defence of humans.

Jordan is a leading member of the US-led coalition fighting IS in neighbouring Iraq and Syria, and was the target of a 21 June suicide bombing that killed seven border guards.

The kingdom has carried out airstrikes targeting IS militants and hosts coalition troops on its territory.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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