Poet arrested in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) October 21, 2008 The poet, Islam Samhan, published his collection of poems, "Grace like a Shadow," without the approval of the Jordanian government, and authorities say it insults the holy book, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Samhan was charged with harming the Islamic faith and violating the press and publication law for combining the sacred words of the Quran with sexual themes.

If convicted, the poet could face up to three years in jail. Jordanian law bans the publication of any books or articles that could be seen as harmful to Islam and its Prophet Muhammad.

More than two years ago, the court convicted the editors of two weekly newspapers of insulting Islam and sentenced them to two months in prison after they reprinted Danish newspaper caricatures of Muhammad.

Jordanian writers and artists urged the government in a collective petition to immediately release the poet, saying the arrest is a "retreat in the freedom of expression," and called for an end to the "oppression of freedom and intimidation practiced against intellectuals."

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