Jordan blocks satirical site Al-Hudood following mockery of royal wedding

In a move highlighting the country’s ongoing restriction of press freedoms, Jordan has shut down access to the satirical website Al-Hudood, which recently poked fun at the kingdom’s latest royal wedding. Since the 5th of July, the site, which translates to “The Boundaries” or “The Limits” in Arabic, has been unreachable within Jordan’s borders.

While no official reason has been given by Amman, the pan-Arab site Raseef22 has noted that Al-Hudood’s most recent content on Jordan involved humorous takes on the nuptials of Crown Prince Hussein, son of King Abdullah, and Saudi Rajwa Al-Saif, held on the 1st of June.

In a recent satirical post, the site suggested that Jordanian authorities were planning to launch a campaign encouraging all citizens, including children, to visibly express their joy over the royal wedding or face potential fines.

Another post that possibly provoked the monarchy was a cartoon by a Bahraini artist, which depicted locals throwing pieces of their clothing at the newlyweds – a visual metaphor emphasising the stark contrast between the royal grandeur and the economic hardship of the populace.

Al-Hudood, founded in 2013 by Jordanian-Palestinian journalist Issam Ouraiqat and colleagues, originally focused on satirising Jordan’s domestic affairs but swiftly expanded its scope to cover the wider Arab world. It remains accessible outside of Jordan and frequently features work from regional cartoonists and caricaturists.

Described by Raseef22 as “a platform for Arab creativity offering satirical content and using comedy to shed light on sensitive issues in the Middle East,” Al-Hudood tackles topics ranging from politics and economics to societal norms and freedoms.

In a statement, Al-Hudood voiced concern over this action by the Jordanian government, reminiscing about the times when the kingdom allowed “a certain degree of freedom and satire.” In a pointed reminder, they referenced King Abdullah and his wife, Queen Rania’s participation in a march in Paris for the victims of the 2015 attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Over the past decade, Jordanian authorities have intensified their control over the press and the internet, echoing tactics employed by other authoritarian regimes in the region. This includes blocking websites and persecuting journalists. According to the Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders, Jordan ranks at 146th place out of 180 countries.

Image Credit: Al-Hudood

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