Activists protest drafted press-related legislation

Protestors gather in front of the Jordan Press Association to protest drafted government policy changes calling for the government's resignation and the resignation of the director of the Media Commission. (Photo: Handout from Dana Zyadat)
AMMAN — Activists on Sunday, September 5, 2021, gathered in front of the Jordan Press Association to protest drafted government policy changes regarding media laws and regulations seen as crippling to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.اضافة اعلان

The changes, which are still at the Legislation and Opinion Bureau affiliated with the Council of Ministers, suggest raising the fees to renew the license of web-based newspapers from JD50 to JD500. Media websites that plan to broadcast via the internet would also be expected to pay JD2,500 to get the license under the drafted law.

The drafted laws also include a controversial amendment that would bar individuals and organizations from broadcasting live on the internet without authorization, which has drawn fire from activists as a measure aimed "to muzzle mouths."

The campaign is led by a coordinating committee comprised of owners and journalists manning e-papers, supported by the Jordan Press Association. Participants in the Sunday sit-in called for aborting the process of enacting the new regulations, the government's resignation, and the resignation of the director of the Media Commission, Tareq Abu Al Ragheb, who was considered an opposition figure in the past but now serves as a government official.

In remarks to Jordan News, Jo24 Editor in Chief Bassel Okoor said, "The government's move is blatant aggression on the press freedom and the rights of social media users to express their opinions. Our demand is to withdraw these amendments, and then the government should sit with us at the negotiating table."

Okoor added that the campaign was planning an orchestrated "electronic storm" late Sunday, September 5, 2021. Various news websites would simultaneously publish materials as part of the resistance against the government's prospected laws.

The activists have already launched three hashtags:
(Save freedom of expression; withdraw the media regulations; the media regulations are unconstitutional).

Jordan Press Association Council members joined the chorus of protesters. Khaled Al-Qudah, a council member, urged journalists to join ranks to "Repel the attack on the freedom of the press." Another council member, Hadeel Ghabboun, said that the amended pieces of the legislation are still with the Legislation and Opinion Bureau, and the process is still ongoing, responding to recent reports that they have been shelved.

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