Jordan: Satirical news website Al-Hudood blocked amid media freedom decline in the country

The headquarters of the Jordan Media Commission in Amman on May 20, 2015. Photo/IPI

Source International Press Institute

IPI Contributor Katherine Dailey

International Press Institute (IPI) condemns restrictions on access to any news site, including satire


Media www.rajawalisiber.comIPI condemns the blocking of satirical news site Al-Hudood, a London-based satire website often compared as the Arabic-language alternative to The Onion, by Jordanian authorities. 

No reasoning has been provided by the government as to why the site has been blocked or if any particular reporting triggered action against the site. However, some are speculating, according to Middle East Eye, that it relates to their coverage of the Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein’s extravagant wedding last month. The block was discovered when readers in Jordan began leaving comments that they were unable to access the website.

This is not the first time the outlet has faced pushback from the Jordanian government.

When initially trying to register the site, the government put the registration on hold for a year and a half before eventually rejecting the attempt, according to a 2017 report from the European Endowment for Democracy (EED).

The outlet was also accused of “disturbing relations with neighbouring countries” after publishing a controversial piece on Saudi Arabia.

Satire and satirists can play an important role in providing commentary and insights on public affairs, particularly in more restrictive regimes. For this reason, satirical publications are frequently targeted by authoritarian regimes for addressing topics often banned in traditional media.

The site, founded in Jordan in 2013, publishes satirical articles and cartoons on current events around the Middle East. In May, the site published a satire on the extradition by Jordan of Emirati dissident Khalaf al-Rumaithi to the UAE.

The blocking of this site comes amid wider pressure on the media in Jordan.

France24 reported in March that much of the media is controlled in some form by the regime, and most controversial topics are banned under gag orders.

Independent media, such as outlet JO24, is the subject of routine searches and fines, and reporters are often arrested.

Blocking of media in Jordan, such as the banning of 45 news sites in 2019 for not completing licensing procedures, has been a strategy used by the government to target independent media.

In 2022, two journalists, Taghreed Risheq and Daoud Kuttab, were arrested and detained under Jordan’s cybercrime law.

This law, adopted in 2019, criminalizes  libel and slander, specifically against the King, government officials, and national institutions, with penalties of up to three months imprisonment, and has repeatedly been used to target journalists publishing content critical of the government.

“The blocking of the satirical news site Al-Hudood is a worrying sign about  freedom of expression and media freedom in Jordan”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said.

“Authorities should immediately unblock this site, and refrain from further actions that threaten the Jordan public’s right to access information – which includes satirical news.”

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