Middle East

Jordanian writer shot dead in front of court before trial over cartoon

A gunman on Sunday killed prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar outside a court where he was facing charges for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, state news agency Petra reported.

Hattar was struck by three bullets before the assailant was arrested, said Petra. Witnesses told AFP that a man had opened fire in front of the court in Amman's Abdali district.

The 56-year-old Christian was arrested on August 13 after posting a cartoon mocking Islamist militants on his Facebook account.

A prominent activist who was a supporter of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Hattar shared a caricature that depicted a bearded man in heaven smoking in bed with women, asking God to bring him wine and cashews.

Many conservative Muslim Jordanians considered it offensive and against their religion. The authorities said he violated the law by widely sharing the caricature.

He was charged with inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam before being released on bail in early September.

Jordan is a leading member of the US-led coalition supporting rebel forces in Syria that seek to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Jordan hosts coalition troops on its territory and provides facilities for the training of Syrian rebel forces.

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