The prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar was assassinated Sunday on the steps of a court, where he was facing charges for sharing a cartoon online, in an attack condemned as "heinous."
Nahed Hattar was struck by three bullets before the alleged assassin was arrested at the scene of the shooting in Amman's central Abdali district, said the official Petra news agency.
The assailant shot Hattar, a 56-year-old Christian, as he made his way up the stairs of the court, a security source told AFP.
Struck in the head, he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital, said the source.
The gunman, a 49-year-old Amman resident, gave himself up to police at the court, the source added.
An AFP journalist saw blood lying on the steps of the courthouse, where police had cordoned off the area of the shooting.
At the time, he explained on Facebook that the cartoon made fun of "terrorists and how they imagine God and heaven, and does not insult God in any way."
The attorney general had imposed a blackout media coverage of the case against Hattar, also known as a leftist and supporter of the Resistance and Syria.
Prime Minister Hani al-Malki ordered his interior minister, Salam Hammad, to summon the writer and to initiate legal proceedings against him after he shared the cartoon on the internet.
The Jordanian government denounced his killing as a "heinous crime."
"The law will be firmly applied to the person who committed the crime and the government will strike with an iron fist anyone who dares to take advantage of this to spread hate speech," said spokesman Mohamad Momani.
The opposition Muslim Brotherhood and Dar al-Iftaa, the highest religious authority, also condemned the attack.
But supporters of Hattar said they held the government responsible for the shooting, accusing Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki of creating a hostile atmosphere that encouraged violence against the writer.
"The prime minister was the first one who incited against Nahed when he ordered his arrest and put him on trial for sharing the cartoon, and that ignited the public against him and led to his killing," said Saad Hattar, a cousin of the writer.
Hattar has long been a controversial figure in Jordan. Years ago, he revealed that the late King Hussein had arrested and tortured him many times for his critical writings and vowed not to mourn the king, who died in 1999.
In a statement, the family called on the government to hold accountable all those who had incited against Hattar.
"Many fanatics wrote on social media calling for his killing and lynching, and the government did nothing against them," they said.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team