Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, June 2011
Jordanian Media Affairs Minister, Taher Al-Odwan, Resigns in Protest Against New Law Restricting Media Freedoms
Media affairs minister tenders resignation
Jordan Times, 22 June 2011
AMMAN (JT) -
Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Taher Odwan on Tuesday tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, in protest against referring draft legislation that “limit media freedoms” to the Lower House in its upcoming extraordinary session.
However, it was not clear by yesterday evening whether the resignation was accepted.
A government source familiar with the development told The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity that Odwan attended the regular session of the Cabinet yesterday, where the resignation was not discussed.
The minister, a veteran journalist and columnist, “practised his regular duties after the Cabinet meeting and held a routine meeting with his team” when they usually discuss press statements following the ministers’ meetings, said the source.
Odwan, who did not answer calls from The Jordan Times yesterday, said he submitted his resignation because of what he described as moves to muzzle freedoms.
In his resignation letter to Bakhit, which he posted on his Facebook page and sent to several local news websites, Odwan said that the proposed amendments to the Press and Publications Law, the Anti-Corruption Commission Law and the Penal Code for deliberations under the Dome will hinder the reform process if endorsed by lawmakers, voicing hope the House will reject them.
The former editor-in-chief of Al Arab Al Yawm daily said the draft amendments will negate the newly released media strategy, which is based on amending legislation to provide a higher margin of press freedom, describing the laws in the form adopted by the Cabinet as “martial laws”.
In the letter, Odwan said the majority of the Cabinet was against including the amendments on the Press and Publications Law on the extraordinary session’s agenda, charging that there were powers within or outside the government pushing for discussing the draft amendments in Parliament.
He also rejected the “frequent assaults” against reporters as they perform their duties, noting that mistakes committed by media outlets do not legitimise attacking them and destroying their offices.
Last week, unidentified attackers stormed Agence France-Presse offices in Jabal Amman and smashed windows and furniture. The raid was apparently a reaction to AFP’s coverage of His Majesty King Abdullah’s tour of the southern town of Tafileh, sending initial news flashes that the Monarch’s convoy came under attack last Monday. The way the news of clashes between citizens and police during the visit was reported apparently angered people who first protested near AFP offices and attacked them violently the next day.
Odwan warned that the absence of a firm response to stop such attacks will lead the Kingdom into a state of chaos, “drowning” it in the same “quagmire” where other Arab systems have sunk.
The letter concluded with Odwan commending Bakhit’s ministerial team for their patriotism and will to achieve reform in the face of corruption.
Jordan's information minister resigns
Press TV, Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:54PM
Jordan's Information Minister Taher Adwan says he has resigned in protest
at laws he deems "restrictive for freedom of expression.”
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