Hundreds mourn Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar

Large funeral turnout for murdered writer who was killed outside the court where he faced charges of insulting Islam.

Nahed Hattar
Activists hold a picture of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar on Wednesday at his funeral [Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]

Murdered Jordanian writer and journalist Nahed Hattar was buried on Wednesday after he was shot dead outside a court on his way to face charges of insulting Islam.  

Hundreds of people attended Hattar’s funeral in his hometown of Fuheis, 20km northwest Amman, including supporters, intellectuals, and current and former government officials.

Hattar, a Christian, was shot dead on Monday by an attacker who fired three rounds from a pistol into his head and chest, killing him instantly.

The writer faced charges after sharing a cartoon drawn by an unknown person on his Facebook page last August.

The caricature was a depiction of God conversing with an ISIL fighter who is lying in bed with two women. It is prohibited in Islam to show images of any revered religious figures.

Hattar, 56, had been a controversial figure in Jordan and had angered many with his unconventional views, including his support for the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Nahed Hattar - Jordanian writer and analyst [Al Jazeera]
Nahed Hattar – Jordanian writer and analyst [Al Jazeera]

The alleged gunman was identified by Jordanian authorities as 49-year-old Riyad Ismail Abdullah.

Abdullah was known as an ultra-conservative in the Yadoudah area east of Amman.

Abdullah travelled and fought in Syria against the Assad regime in the early years of the civil war that broke out in 2011, sources told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity. 

“It was very easy back then for Jordanians to travel to Syria,” said one source familiar with the situation.

After spending more than a year in Syria, Abdullah returned to Jordan.

The Jordanian press reported that he was a critic of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He also reportedly challenged the Jordanian government’s pro-western policies, which resulted in him being fired from a job as a government-appointed imam of a mosque.

Jordan: Nahed Hattar shot dead before cartoon trial

Hattar’s family members blamed the Jordanian government for its “negligence” in failing to provide protection for Hattar. His brother Khaled said that Hattar had received more than 200 death threats.

“We demand the resignation of Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki because of his government’s negligence to protect my brother,” he said.

The Jordanian government condemned the killing and vowed to punish his killer, who faces a death sentence if convicted.

Jordan’s Minister of Information Mohammad al-Momani said in a statement that his government “will use all legal measures against those who spread extremism and hatred in Jordan”.

Hattar’s former lawyer and friend Faisal al-Batayneh described him as a “national and an Arab hero”.

“His murder is a loss not only to Jordan but to the entire Arab nation,” he said.

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter: @ali_reports

Jordan: Nahed Hattar shot dead before cartoon trial

Source: Al Jazeera