Jordan king pardons everyone charged with insulting him

But the monarch says maintaining stability in the country is paramount

Jordan’s King Abdullah has pardoned 155 people convicted of insulting him, while stressing the importance of maintaining stability in the kingdom.

Before a speech to parliament on Monday, the king issued a decree that grants a “special pardon” to all those convicted of the offence in the kingdom and sets those in jail free.

“The special pardon fully drops the punishment on 155 convicts” the Royal Court said in a statement.

Insulting the king, as well as “slandering” the authorities and foreign leaders whether verbally, in writing or online, is punishable by up to three years in prison.

The king told parliament on Monday that he aims to “modernise” the political system while maintaining stability in the country.

“Experiments around us have taught us that transition within clear programmes is the safe way to achieve the required modernisation,” he said at the start of the parliament's new yearly session.

“The strength of Jordan is based on security and stability.”

All significant powers in the country are with the king, and parliament's role is mostly ceremonial. The kingdom of 10 million people is in a recession and unemployment is officially at a record 24 per cent.

In June, the king formed a loyalist committee that came up with proposals for political change based on how the parliament is elected, without touching upon his powers.

The proposals aim to increase the influence of political parties in the 130-member chamber, which is dominated by tribes.

In October, King Abdullah told authorities to prepare to pardon all those convicted of speaking against him.

It is not the first time the king has commented on such cases.

In April this year, a court overturned a case against a woman who had been arrested on charges of insulting the monarch, after a dispute with another driver led her to say that “my father is better than the king and the whole world”.

The case sparked outrage on social media after she was initially sentenced to more than a year in jail. On appeal, the court ruled that she had not in any way meant to insult the country's ruler with her remarks.

Updated: November 16th 2021, 4:54 AM