Jordan MP in trouble for pulling gun in TV debate

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - July 10, 2012

Mohammed Shawabka pointed his pistol at Mansour Seif-Eddine Murad after the former guerrilla-turned-politician called him a "mafia thief" during a prime-time debate late Thursday covering Jordanian politics and the Syria's uprising. The debate was aired on the private Jordanian Josat satellite station.

"He was going to shoot me and he should be punished for that," said Murad, an outspoken activist affiliated with Arab nationalist groups who support what they consider to be Syrian President Bashar Assad's defiance of Western "colonialism."

He said he filed a complaint against Shawabka at Amman's First Instance Court earlier Monday, accusing him of attempted murder and defamation.

Shawabka declined comment.

An Amman prosecutor confirmed that the case was received and that the court will soon decide if there is enough evidence to bring charges.

Political debate shows are a popular feature on Arabic-language satellite television and some hosts frequently book guests with radically opposed views and reputations for volatility. Exchanges of insults are common, shoving matches not unheard-of.

The prosecutor said the use of a firearm meant there was potentially a serious charge, if not attempted murder.

"Had he pointed the gun at Mr. Murad's head, it would've surely been a good case of attempted murder," the prosecutor said, insisting on anonymity because he is not allowed to comment on a court case. Video of the fight does not appear to show Shawabka taking aim.

He said prosecutors were also investigating "how the gun managed to find its way into the studio."

The fight began when Shawabka accused Murad of being an Assad "spy." Murad denied the allegation.

"You're a Mossad agent," Murad said, referring to the Israeli secret service.

The host, Mohammed Habashna, who was sitting between them, shouted at his guests to "calm down."

Instead, the MP took off his right shoe and hurled it at Murad, who took cover under a table.

Then, Shawabka pulled out a silver pistol from his waistband and pointed it toward the activist. No shots were fired.

Habashna came between the two but the MP continued to try to push at Murad as the program abruptly ended.

"I couldn't believe my eyes," Habashna said. "It was like the Wild West, but we needed horses in the studio."

Murad is a former guerrilla with a Palestinian group. He was jailed in Greece for participating in the 1969 hand grenade attack on the Athens office of the Israeli airline El Al that killed one child. Murad was freed in 1970 in exchange for 55 hostages aboard a hijacked Olympic Airways jetliner.

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