Jordanian writer gunned down outside courthouse

A man who shot a Jordanian writer dead outside the Supreme Court in Amman has been identified as a local imam in his late 40s.

Nahid Hattar, a Christian, who was facing charges for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, was struck by three bullets on Sunday before the assailant was apprehended, said Petra.

Security sources said the gunman is a Jordanian and was known to be an extremist.

Jordanian media said he was motivated by his anger over the cartoon posted to Facebook by writer Nahed Hattar.

Last month, Hattar was arrested for sharing a caricature of a bearded man in heaven with women in bed asking God for wine and cashews, a cartoon which was seen as insulting to Islam.

He said the cartoon was meant to mock jihadists and their twisted interpretation of Islam but Jordan's government charged him with insulting the faith and "provoking sectarian rifts". The tiny kingdom reined by the British-educated King Abdullah II founds itself in a troubled neighborhood, bordering war-torn Syria. Amman Gov. Khaled Abu Zeid had ordered Hattar's arrest for the "blasphemous" Facebook post he made.

Any depiction of Allah is considered an offence to Islam in Jordan, and so Hattar was charged with violating religious laws and causing "sectarian strife and racism". The caricature was deemed offensive by majority of the Muslims in the country.

Hattar had defended the cartoon, saying it was not his intention to insult Islam but to expose how Isis "envisions God and heaven".

"The law will be strictly enforced on the culprit who did this criminal act and will hit with an iron fist anyone who tries to harm state of law", government spokesman Mohammad Momani said.

"We call on the government to bring the killer to justice and to change its approach to freedom of the press to foster openness and protection for critical voices".

The cartoon features an illustration of God under the title "God of Daesh", using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. He was a strong supporter of Syrian president Bashar Assad and an outspoken critic of the Islamic State group and al Qaida.

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