Jordanian preacher held over YouTube video

AFP , Tuesday 14 Jun 2016

A preacher who posted an online video criticising Jordan's participation in the coalition battling the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria was arrested on Tuesday, a judicial source said.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the state security court placed Amjad Qursha in preventative detention for 15 days after the video was posted on YouTube.

In it, Qursha "criticised Jordan's participation in the international coalition against the terrorist Daesh (IS) organisation in Iraq and Syria", the source said.

The 49-year-old preacher is accused of "having committed unauthorised acts... that could affect the kingdom's relations with a friendly country", a reference to the United States which heads the anti-IS coalition.

In the video, Qursha says Washington "compelled" Amman to join the coalition.

"Unfortunately, our feeble and fragile government has led us into a war that has nothing to do with us," he says.

The married father of five lectures at the University of Jordan's sharia (Islamic law) faculty.

He is known as a moderate who appears frequently in discussions on official radio and television channels.

In mid-May Eyad Qunaibi, another Islamist preacher who was imprisoned for nearly a year for inciting hatred against the regime on social media, was freed following criticism from rights campaigners.

The 40-year-old Kuwaiti-born Jordanian criticised Jordan's relations with Israel -- the two neighbours are bound by a peace treaty -- and the "Westernisation" of Jordanian society.

Last year the Muslim Brotherhood's second-in-command in Jordan Zaki Bani Rsheid was sentenced to 18 months in prison for using Facebook to criticise a decision by the United Arab Emirates to blacklist the group.

He was freed in January.

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