THREE journalists who printed an article about the sex life of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad were sentenced to up to six months in jail for libel yesterday by Jordan’s military state security court.
The court said it also found Muhannad Mubaideen, 29, Roman Haddad, 28, and Nasser Qamash, 33, guilty of harming Jordan’s reputation in an article on 14 January about Muhammad’s sex life with his wife, Aisha, and of "destabilising the society, propagating perversity and circulating false rumours".
Under the law, the verdicts and sentences are irrevocable.
But the presiding judge, Colonel Fawaz al-Buqour, said two of the journalists could be freed if they pay an undetermined fine. Mohammad Abu Ruman, for the defence, said Haddad and Qamash were ready to pay the fine.
Issuing his verdict, Col al-Buqour said Mubaideen deserved to be jailed for one year for writing a "defamatory article" in al-Hilal (the Crescent) newspaper. But the judge said he commuted the sentence to six months to allow him to reconsider his actions. He did not elaborate.
He sentenced Haddad and Qamash - editors blamed for sanctioning the article - to two and three months in jail.
Col al-Buqour also ruled that the newspaper - an independent weekly with an estimated circulation of 7,000 - should remain closed for another month as punishment. Police shut down al-Hilal on 16 January.
The three journalists, handcuffed and wearing prison uniforms, stood silently as Col al-Buqour delivered his verdict during the 20-minute hearing.
When the trial opened on 28 January, the journalists pleaded innocent. They testified they had not meant to libel Muhammad, but that the article had been extracted from historic and religious references tackling the sex life of the prophet.
Police arrested the journalists two days after Mubaideen wrote the article, titled "Aisha in the Prophet’s home - God protected her from the fall of flies on her body".
Mubaideen claimed in the article that when Muhammad became prophet and set up a Muslim state in present-day Saudi Arabia, "he became financially capable to spend on married life and had since chosen whatever woman he desired", according to a five-page indictment sheet prepared by the military prosecution.
It said Mubaideen alleged the prophet had become sexually potent - with the energy of 40 men - specifically when he married Aisha, a virgin whom the writer quoted as saying that Muhammad "had His revelations while both of us were in the same bed".