National Laws on Blasphemy: Jordan

Like other Middle Eastern countries, Jordan forbids blasphemy against Islam, though sentencing is typically somewhat more moderate. In its Penal Code, the Jordanian government proscribes any defamation of Islam or the Prophet Muhammad along with anything that offends Muslim sensibilities. Additionally, since the passage of a 2006 amendment to the Criminal Procedures Act, the state has the power to prosecute any crime—including blasphemy—committed in a foreign country if it affects Jordanians through the Internet or other “electronic means”; this amendment was spurred by the worldwide Muslim outrage against the 2005 cartoons defaming Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Sentences for blasphemy typically involve several months in prison. With an overwhelming Sunni majority (over 90%) and relatively harmonious relations with the Christian minority (up to 8%), most blasphemy charges are against Sunnis who approach Islamic subjects in ways deemed inappropriate. Recent prosecutions have been against a poet who incorporated Qur’anic verses into a book of love poetry, and two journalists who reprinted the Danish Muhammad cartoons in a Jordanian newspaper.