REPORTING FROM BEIRUT— As blogger Enass Musallam of Jordan was leaving a cafe in the nation’s capital last week, a man wearing a mask and gloves grabbed her from behind.
“In the name of his royal majesty and the prince,” the assailant said as he stabbed Musallam in the stomach,according to a statement by the press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ. “Next time, you will be slaughtered,” he continued and put the knife to her throat before throwing her down a flight of stairs and fleeing.
A friend helped Musallam to a hospital, where she was treated for five days.
The Feb. 20 attack in Amman appears to be linked to Musallam’s critical writings about members of the Jordanian royal family. The day before she was stabbed, she reportedly wrote an article on her blog (link in Arabic) that criticized Prince Hassan bin Talal’s recent commentary about dispersing demonstrators in an Amman square. The blogger said his comments were offensive.
For the last year, Jordan has witnessed pro-democracy protests, pushing King Abdullah II to fire his previous cabinet and introduce reforms.
CPJ calls on the Jordanian authorities to initiate a “serious investigation” into the stabbing. The probe conducted so far has born no fruit. Instead, some authorities appear to be trying to discredit Musallam.
The Public Security Directorate investigated the incident and concluded that the stabbing resulted from a lovers’ falling out or a friends’ argument and that Musallam had demonstrated “volatile behavior,” according to CPJ. No arrests reportedly have been made.
Musallam also encountered problems with local police, telling CPJ that officers told her she had probably imagined the assault when she went to a station shortly after being released from the hospital. One officer called her a liar and told her she would not be able to continue her education at the university.
But Media Affairs and Communications Minister Rakan Majali condemned the stabbing, according to the local news site Ammon News. Majali wrote on his Facebook page that he rejected such thuggish acts and denounced those who stood with the attacker.
Reporters who have published critical writings of the royal family have faced threats in the past, while those that have covered demonstrations have been attacked by security forces and had their equipment confiscated.