In Jordan, Protests on The Rise Against Press Control, Gas Prices
Translated from Al-Khaleej (U.A.E.).
Jordan’s parliament added new amendments to the Press and Publications Act yesterday [Sept. 11]. The session was marked by controversy and saw the withdrawal of 14 members of parliament. Moreover, four deputies resigned from the National Guidance Committee after alleging they were subjected to political pressure. The press has denounced what it has called “restrictions” on the freedom of the media, which particularly affect online media outlets.
About This Article
In Jordan, a hotly debated law which would curtail press freedom has led to extensive debate in the country’s parliament. Protests are heating up amid an already tense political atmosphere. A proposed abolition of fuel subsidies was recently canceled out of fear of a backlash.Publisher: Al-Khaleej (U.A.E.)
The Jordanian Parliament Adopts Amendments to the Press and Publications Act Amid Controversy and Rejection.
First Published: September 12, 2012
Posted on: September 12 2012
Translated by: Joelle El-Khoury
Categories : Security Jordan
Minor amendments were added to the act — which was submitted by the cabinet — including a clause eliminating the possibility of blocking the already-licensed Jordan News Agency. It also stipulated that the agency’s editor-in-chief would remain a member of the Syndicate of Journalists and would be responsible for any published comments, as well as for overseeing other managerial and financial details. These were tasks that the opposition viewed as “restraints” on the job. These amendments came following the approval of a proposal aimed at ensuring that the electronic and printed press receive equal treatment.
In a statement released by the 14 members of parliament who walked out of the session after heated arguments, objections and interventions, they criticized the way in which the session was managed. The statement reiterated their initial demand — made before the start of the session — that called for the entire act to be dismissed because “it infringes on freedoms.”
The press rushed to issue statements criticizing the adoption of the act. It is now in the hands of the senate, which is considered to be the second half of legislative authority. In addition, news websites posted obituaries announcing the death of press freedom, while other press parties announced their determination to organize demonstrations.
On the other hand, hundreds of protesters gathered overnight on Monday at the Interior Ministry roundabout in Amman, also known as Gamal Abdul Nasser Square, and chanted harsh slogans demanding the release of activists. Fourteen days ago, state security forces arrested activists for inciting hatred against the regime, impudence, instigating fights and participating in illegal marches in the Tafilah governorate.
Security forces established a cordon around the Interior Ministry roundabout, where the government had banned demonstrations after a protest last year resulted in clashes and injuries. Three hundred fifty protesters took part in the sit-in, amid security measures and armored vehicles. The police and military forces present were “on red alert.”
Ahmad Obeidat, the head of the National Front for Reform, told the German Press Agency that the recent demonstrations against rising petroleum prices have shocked decision makers. He added that although the decision [to cancel petroleum subsidies] has been frozen, the situation in the kingdom is tense and congested. He said that “decision makers never expected that the Jordanian people — without any prior planning — would express their anger and rejection of a decision to raise the price of petroleum and other goods.”
Obeidat spoke about rising criticism, which is now targeting the king of Jordan personally, not just the presidency or the government. He said that “people have lost confidence in governments and parliaments. Therefore, they only have his majesty the king to address, ask questions of and criticize.”
He also spoke about the government’s accusations against opposition groups — specifically the Islamic movement — which they claim is seeking to reduce the king’s constitutional powers and establish a new political regime in the country by threatening to call for major demonstrations at the end of the month [September]. Obeidat said, “All political forces have agreed on the constitutional legitimacy of the regime, and this regime needs to preserve this legitimacy.”
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