Speaking truth to power is challenging

الراعي الذهبي

by Daoud Kuttab
When the plane from London landed at Queen Alia airport I was in the middle of reading a book entitled “yet in the dark streets shinning.” The book written by my cousin Bishara Awad tells the story of a Palestinian family who lost their father in the 1948 war and has risen from that dark moment to provide hope and resilience.

We were in London to attend a memorial service of my brother-in-law Labib Madanat whose sudden death in Iraq shocked us and many around us.

As I have done hundreds of times, I arrived at the Jordanian passport control for the routine check when I was surprised to find out that I was asked to wait. It was already past midnight and we were eager to get home and get some sleep. I had a busy day because our radio station was organizing a big event on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

My mind wondered as we waited as to why I was being held up. In recent months I have been hearing some chatter about my journalistic work but I never expected it to reach the point of restricting my movement.  A number of stories about the King had been published internationally sometimes with quotes from me. I also wrote a long piece for foreign policy about the restrictions of media in Jordan. But what I was most worried about was less about Jordan and the King and more about a new journalistic project I have started focusing on the situation of Christians in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. Maghtas.com a site whose name also reflects the baptismal site in the east bank of the Jordan river has upset some higher-up Christian religious leaders who are not used to criticism even mild commentary. The new site which had quickly received a lot of attention from ordinary Christians dealt with personal status issues like advocating for equality between men and women on issues of inheritance.

We also dealt with the lack of equal treatment of evangelical Christians and covered a $31 million lawsuit in the US against the Latin Patriarchate. All these stories have upset the religious leaders that they recommended to the government, and the media commission was obliged to block our website in Jordan.

الراعي البرونزي

These issues were whirling in my mind when senior Jordanian police offered called me in and said that there was a complaint against me to the cybercrime police unit. Ok, I said rather naively, I will attend to this tomorrow. The senior official smiled and said that I would have to stay overnight at the airport and go to the police with an escort? Are you serious I asked? Yes, unless you can find someone to go to the police station and bail you. I quickly called my wife who was waiting by our bags and told her to try and go to the police station in Amman to bail me out.

As I waited, I took out the book I had been reading on the airplane. I did this both to spend the time but I also wanted to send a signal that I will not be deterred by these actions. I knew I had done nothing wrong but that sometimes governmental regimes use these tactics to scare you into avoiding writing on controversial subjects.

Half an hour after my talk with the officers their cell phones began to ring and when they came to talk to me, I realized that the news of my detention has become public and they wanted to limit the damage. He asked me if anyone is going to bail me because they are waiting for them and that I will soon be released.

Within less than two hours I was released but the story didn’t stop. It appears that my short detention which came on the heels of the 11-hour detention of another journalist has caused some trouble among senior decision-makers. A decision was quickly made by the government of Jordan for an end to airport detentions regarding cases of cybercrime complaints.

الراعي البرونزي

تكافح مجلة “ملح الأرض” من أجل الاستمرار في نشر تقارير تعرض أحوال المسيحيين العرب في الأردن وفلسطين ومناطق الجليل، ونحرص على تقديم مواضيع تزوّد قراءنا بمعلومات مفيدة لهم ، بالاعتماد على مصادر موثوقة، كما تركّز معظم اهتمامها على البحث عن التحديات التي تواجه المكون المسيحي في بلادنا، لنبقى كما نحن دائماً صوت مسيحي وطني حر يحترم رجال الدين وكنائسنا ولكن يرفض احتكار الحقيقة ويبحث عنها تماشيًا مع قول السيد المسيح و تعرفون الحق والحق يحرركم
من مبادئنا حرية التعبير للعلمانيين بصورة تكميلية لرأي الإكليروس الذي نحترمه. كما نؤيد بدون خجل الدعوة الكتابية للمساواة في أمور هامة مثل الإرث للمسيحيين وأهمية التوعية وتقديم النصح للمقبلين على الزواج وندعم العمل الاجتماعي ونشطاء المجتمع المدني المسيحيين و نحاول أن نسلط الضوء على قصص النجاح غير ناسيين من هم بحاجة للمساعدة الإنسانية والصحية والنفسية وغيرها.
والسبيل الوحيد للخروج من هذا الوضع هو بالتواصل والنقاش الحر، حول هويّاتنا وحول التغييرات التي نريدها في مجتمعاتنا، من أجل أن نفهم بشكل أفضل القوى التي تؤثّر في مجتمعاتنا،.
تستمر ملح الأرض في تشكيل مساحة افتراضية تُطرح فيها الأفكار بحرّية لتشكل ملاذاً مؤقتاً لنا بينما تبقى المساحات الحقيقية في ساحاتنا وشوارعنا بعيدة المنال.
كل مساهماتكم تُدفع لكتّابنا، وهم شباب وشابات يتحدّون المخاطر ليرووا قصصنا.

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