Newsletter No 18 14 February 2006
 
Press Freedom:
World Press Organizations Protest Against Jailings in Jordan Over Muhammad Cartoons

The World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum have protested to the Jordanian government against the prosecution of two editors who published the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of Muslim protest around the world.

"While appreciating that the cartoons have caused offence to many Muslims in Jordan and elsewhere, we respectfully remind you that the decision as to whether or not to publish such material is an editorial decision and not one with which the state – and in particular the criminal law – should interfere," the Paris-based WAN and the WEF said in a letter to Jordanian Interior Minister Awni Yerfas.

"The cartoons may have been in poor taste, but they were satirical in nature and did not incite violence," said the letter, which called for the charges to be dropped and for the journalists to be released from prison. The journalists were subsequently released on bail.

Editors Jihad Momeni of the weekly Shihan, and Hisham Al Khalidi of Al Mehwar, were arrested and charged with blasphemy after publishing the cartoons that were first published in Denmark. Shihan printed three of the cartoons alongside an editorial questioning whether the angry reaction of Muslims was justified, while Al Mehwar reproduced the cartoons to accompany an article on the condemnation they had sparked.

For full coverage of the cartoon controversy, visit the World Editors Forum weblog at http://www.editorsweblog.org