Jordanian secularist killed for ‘blasphemous’ cartoon

Nahed Hattar, a Jordanian atheist, was killed today after standing trial at a court in Amman, Jordan. What was he killed for?

Well, sharing a cartoon on Facebook. A rather tame one, too.

Hattar actually was standing trial in the court for the aforementioned cartoon before he was shot. In August, he was arrested for ‘insulting God’, and spent fifteen days in jail for it. So what is actually in the cartoon? Well, let’s take a look.


I can’t read Arabic, so I’m going to use this translated picture from


So what the cartoon appears to be making fun of is Islamic extremists’ vision of paradise. There are two women, probably alluding to the whole ’72 virgins’ hadith believed by a lot of extremists, and God is being treated like a servant by the man in bed.

So the worst thing I think this cartoon can be accused of is making fun of is the view of some people that everything will be given to you in paradise/heaven and God will treat you like the master of a household. It’s not even a overtly atheistic cartoon! I could conceivably see a moderate Muslim using this to make fun of some people’s views of heaven. If this was changed to reflect Christianity and released in the US, no one would even bat an eye at it.

So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that Islamic countries have got to become more comfortable with people making light of religion. Extremist attitudes are still very prevalent in a lot of Islamic countries, and moderates have got to counter them at every opportunity.

Because what you can be killed for these days is very disturbing.


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