Dozens of Jordanian journalists have taken part in a demonstration in protest at a government decision to ban hundreds of websites. The protesters said that the decision “assassinates media freedom” in Jordan.
“We have gathered today to tell King Abdullah that the government’s repressive decision violates the constitution,” editor Nasser Lafi told AFP. “This move harms Jordan’s reputation.”
According to Jomaa Wahsh, the editor of Al-Mirsad website, “More protests will follow to push the government to scrap this unfair law, which violates international standards.”
The Jordanian government made the move to block around 290 news websites ten days ago “for failing to obtain necessary licences”.
The head of the Jordanian Press and Publication Department, Fayez Shawabkeh, said that around 150 news websites are expected to obtain licences by Thursday. “Many of them have changed their registration from news websites to social or cultural websites, which means that the press law does not apply to them,” he said.
Last September, Jordan’s parliament approved government amendments to the Press and Publications Law authorising it to regulate electronic publications, which sparked a public debate over freedom of expression in the country. The law requires electronic publications to obtain registration and licences from the Press and Publication Department, and that chief editors of websites must be members of the Union of Journalists.