Jordanian Journalist Arrested For Photoshopping Last Supper Image

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Mohammed Al Wakeel, a journalist and media personality, inserted the "Salt Bae" meme into the "Last Supper" image which led to him being arrested by the government of Jordan. The "Salt Bae" meme portrays Nusret Gökçe sprinkling salt on some food and this picture went viral because of his passionate method of doing it. While many people find this meme interesting, its appearance on Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" was not accepted very well by some believers in Jordan. And because there are also believers with power in Jordan's government who got offended by this image, Al Wakeel ended up being arrested.

In the Kingdom of Jordan there are many radical believers who think that inserting the "Salt Bae" meme into a religious picture is making fun of religion. Al Wakeel found this out the hard way and after a local news website in Jordan shared his photoshopped version of the Last Supper, a public outcry was ignited. The controversial image was taken down after dozens of Jordanians were deeply offended by the “insulting” image. Social media users and some religious schools insisted that website should remove the picture because it is religiously insensitive and it could cause strife between Muslims and Christians in the Kingdom. According to Patheos, a statement released by the Latin Patriarchate Schools called on the Ministry of Education to condemn the cartoon and urged them to take legal action against the website that published it. They said that “the cartoon works to deepen the spirit of hatred amongst people.”

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When all of this happened, Al Wakeel apologized and removed the image saying it was a mistake made by an editor in training, but nothing helped. The Attorney General of Amman has ordered an investigation into the “cartoon ridiculing Jesus.” The Cybercrime Unit at the Public Security Directorate (PSD) has now opened an investigation into the matter. Meanwhile, Al Wakeel and an editor who works for the website were denied bail by the Attorney General of Amman and for the time being they will remain at the Jwaideh Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre on charges of incitement of sectarian and religious strife.

To many people, the photoshopped image is funny and smart, it is a joke about internet obsession and it is not a mockery of Christianity.  Although some people find it offensive, should it lead to anyone being arrested or prosecuted?  Archaic laws treat anything outside of reverence as a crime against humanity and Al Wakeel and his editor are facing some serious time in jail. They could both be sentenced to jail for between six months and three years.

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