Jordan: publisher and editor detained over retouched publication of Last Supper painting

UPDATED 13.12.18 Publisher Mohammed al-Wakeel and an editor of Jordan news web site Al Wakeel News were detained on 10 December for posting on the official Facebook page of the website a retouched picture of the Last Supper painting, which was deemed offensive to Christians. The IFJ joined leaders of its union the Jordan Press Association (JPA) in asking for their immediate release and urge greater action to support ethical journalism.

The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci, 1490s

Al Wakeel news website posted on Facebook on 8 December a retouched version of Leonardo da Vinci's mural painting of "The Last Supper" depicting Jesus' final meal with his disciples ahead of his crucifixion. The retouched version portrayed celebrity Turkish chef Nusret Gokce, standing behind Jesus and doing the well known salt-sprinkling gesture.

The picture was taken down following dozens of protests from readers over the image, which they claimed was insulting. Al Wakeel News published a statement apologising and saying the post was a mistake by one of its employees.

The attorney general charged both publisher and editor with incitement of sectarian and religious strife.

Rakan Saaydeh, president of the Jordan Press Association, told The Jordan Times: “Hurting the feelings of others is not freedom of expression," adding that "the organisation did not agree with detention in cases of freedom of expression".

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary said:

" We demand the attorney general to immediately cancel the detention orders and any charges against both journalists. We also remind media and journalists in Jordan to strengthen their commitments to press freedom and ethical journalism including through the establishment of a self-regulatory body to deal with ethical reporting and complaints from citizens."

The journalists were released on bail on Wednesday 12 December.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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