Among the most serious accusations made by MP Razzouq against the media and journalists in his speech in Parliament were describing journalists as "prepaid pens", spreading "poisoned ideas" and "misleading rumors", according to media reports.
Razzouq is a member of the Parliament for the third district of Irbid governorate, the second-most populated district in Jordan, located in the northern part of the country.
Despite the fact that he tried to defend himself by saying he was only referring to “some” journalists, the clarification came after he referred to the media in general as bearers of a “false and deceptive yellowness”.
Like other countries in the region, media is facing an unprecedented crisis in Jordan which has been exacerbated by the Covid 19 crisis. Some media face an imminent threat of closure. The IFJ has highlighted the successive failures of Jordanian parliaments and goverments to pass legislation that would protect critical journalists, independent media and their financial sustainability, thus exacerbating the crisis even more.
All this is happening in the middle of repeated crackdowns on press freedom and critical reporting. Among the latest is the case of ‘Alwakaai’ website reporter, Jamal Haddad, who was arrested on 24 December 2020 for publishing information that announced the failure of the Covid vaccine’s arrival in Jordan and the undeclared administration of this medicine to government officials.
On 26 August 2020, the cartoonist Emad Hajjaj was arrested for mocking UAE-Israel deal in a cartoon published in ‘Al-Araby Al-Jadeed’, a pan-Arab media outlet based in London. He was released four days later.
On 15 April, Jordanian authorities arrested Mohamad al-Khaldi and Fares Sayegh, director and owner of private channel 'Roya TV', based in Amman, for broadcasting a program where they interviewed workers who were complaining about the lack of money to buy food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
JPA said: “We reject these claims as they are baseless accusations and promote distrust of the public and spread false ideas and rumors agianst the media”.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Critical journalism is one of the foundations of democracy and sustainable development. It is the responsiblity of governments and parliaments to make sure that their country enjoys the right legislative and regulatory framework it needs to flourish. Rather than engaging in cheap attacks on journalists and the media, Jordanian policymakers must do their utmost to fullfill their repeated promises to protect the social and professional rights of journalists in the kingdom."
Jordan was the third country to sign up to the Arab Declaration on Media Freedom on 12 October 2016. The text sets out 16 key principles to achieve the highest international standards of media freedom and protect and enhance journalists’ rights, including the protection of freedom of information.