Students Accused of “Devil Worship” in Jordan

Alex Hamasaki, Student Intern
Last Modified: 11:16 a.m. DST, 28 March 2013

Jordan Student Elections, Photo by Roba Al-AssiBEIRUT, JORDAN – Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls for the release of five Al al-Bayt university students who are accused of desecrating the Quran and engaging in devil worship.

The students were accused of ripping and burning Quran manuscripts while performing a “religious ritual.” Prior to their detainment, they were attacked by a crowd of other students. HRC wants these attackers to be brought to justice.

HRC additionally said that authorities in Jordan should investigate reported remarks, which include remarks by well-known Salafi Shaikh, that advocate for the students’ deaths. Further, HRC said that authorities should prosecute those who made incitements to murder.

Other Al al-Bayt students alleged that the five detainees were engaged in “devil worship” and desecrated the Quran, however relatives to the detainees claim there have been no evidence of criminal behavior presented.

One United States based rights groups said that the sister of one of the detained students said that approximately 200 students attacked her sister and four others after the desecration of the Quran rumor spread throughout campus, Aljazeera reports. The group statement further said, “She said the attackers appeared to have targeted the five students because they frequently dress in black and are rock music devotees.”

A father of one of the detainees told HRC that his son phoned him in the morning of March 12 begging for help, saying, “Father they are beating me and I don’t know why.”

The Jordanian news website al-Sabeel reported on March 21 that the Office of the Public Prosecutor extended their detention for another seven days while they investigated them for “sowing discord [fitna] and defaming religion.” The father told HRC that his lawyers said that the authorities have not filed any charges.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a majority Muslim country with over 90% of citizens practicing different forms of Islam. The Constitution provides for the freedom to practice one’s religion, so long as they are in accordance with the customs in Jordan, and so long as they do not violate public order or morality.

HRC said that Jordan is obligated as a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect the rights to security for all people within the country, and to uphold rights of freedom of expression and thought, conscience, and religion. Additionally, under international law, Jordan cannot prosecute people for peacefully expressing their views and should protect them from attempts by others to limit their ability to express their opinions and religious beliefs.

It remains unclear what actually happened on March 12. If the detainees were burning the Quran, they could be brought in under charges of violation of public order. However, they have yet to be charged with a crime. Relatives of the detainees claim that the students did not commit the crimes they are accused of.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report
Student Intern: @aghamasaki

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2 Comments on “Students Accused of “Devil Worship” in Jordan”

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