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article imageJordanian Minister resigns over proposed publication laws

By Sam Halaby     Jun 21, 2011 in World
Amman - Jordan's Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communication Taher Adwan submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit, in opposition to new proposed laws to "restrict media expression".
Adwan, who joined the government in February, told Reuters that he was “surprised” at the drafting of these newly-proposed publication laws.
The new amendments will be proposed during a new parliamentary session on Wednesday, which serve to crack down on slander and defamation by imposing tougher penalties.
Adwan, a veteran journalist who was once editor for an independent newspaper in Jordan, advocated against “repeated attack on journalists who are doing their professional duties”.
Adwan told AmmanNet that he condemns the Anti-Corruption Commission's proposed laws he considers to be contrary to political reforms. He said this could lead to the same public dissent that some countries in the region have suffered.
Last week, a group of men broke into the AFP (Agence France-Presse) offices in Amman, damaging equipment and furniture inside, according to one witness. The attack came after the news agency was one of many that reported that a part of King Abdullah II’s motorcade had been stoned.
The reports were denied by various government officials.
Adwan condemned the attack, stating that hostility against members of the media "cannot be justified under the pretext of loyalty and nationalism". Prime Minister Bakhit called the act "unacceptable".
Jordan's policy vis-à-vis online publication differs from neighboring countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia, who jail bloggers and impose restrictions on cyber-journalists.
Last year, a previous Western-backed government had attempted to put restrictions up with a new cyber-law, but retracted due to concerns that the new law would damage Jordan's image promoting free speech in the Arab world.
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