Our CagleCartoonist and friend, Jordanian cartoonist Osama Hajjaj, faces a possible trial and prison term, of one to three years, for drawing the cartoon below. Osama pleaded “not guilty” in a court hearing yesterday.
“The cartoon was broadcast by the private television channel Roya TV and then deleted after they and the cartoonist received many negative comments. Taking into account the reactions, the cartoonist immediately explained on his Facebook page that it was a misunderstanding and that his cartoon dealt with birth control from a social perspective and not with religion. He was also notified of a complaint filed by two lawyers which led to legal proceedings under Article 150 of the Penal Code and Article 15 of the Cybercrime Act.
Article (150) of the Penal Code states that: “Any writing or speech aims at or results in stirring sectarian or racial prejudices or the incitement of conflict between different sects or the nation’s elements, such act shall be punished by imprisonment for no less than one year and no more than three years and a fine not to exceed two hundred dinars (200 JD).”
Article (15) of the Cybercrime Act states: “Whoever commits any crime punishable under any applicable legislation by using the information network or any information system or website, or participating in, interfering or inciting to commit it, shall be punished with the penalty stipulated in that legislation.”
Osama Hajjaj, who was accompanied by his lawyer, emerged from the hearing free. He is subject to a travel ban and he is awaiting the verdict of the investigation conducted by the Ministry of Public Affairs, which will determine the possibility of a trial. He faces from one to three years in prison and a fine of JD 200 (EUR 236).
Cartooning for Peace expresses his solidarity with Osama and will be following the investigation. It calls for all charges to be dropped, considering that the cartoonist stated in good faith that he did not want to offend his country’s religion.”
Today I represented in front of the Prosecutor General of Oman in a case that was stirred because of a caricature drawing about birth control. I did not intend to offend at all. I was charged with violation of Article 150 of the Penal Code (inciting women) and violation of the electronic crime law… And here I thank the fair and honest judiciary for understanding freedom of opinion and expression and that I am not a criminal and I did not mean to offend in drawing and I thank lawyer Marwan Salem.
Comments on social media have been harsh, with some readers urging that Osama be jailed for the cartoon. Last year Osama received credible death threats and an outpouring of hate for another cartoon showing the beach and a woman wearing traditional Islamic dress …
Osama’s CagleCartoonist, big brother, Emad Hajjaj, was arrested and imprisoned last year in Jordan on the charge of drawing a cartoon that insulted an Arab country. Emad still faces trial.
Jordan claims to have a free press. A nation is free only when its cartoonists are free.
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