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Jordanian Writer Charged With Offensive Cartoon Shot Dead Outside Court

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Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar was fatally shot Sunday morning outside the court where he was due to stand trial for sharing a cartoon that mocked Islam.

Hattar, 56, was shot in the head three times as he arrived for a hearing over the cartoon. Earlier this year, Hattar posted a cartoon on Facebook that he claimed mocked “ISIS terrorists and their concept of heaven,” according to the New York Times. The Christian writer was arrested in August and released on bail in early September.

The shooter, whose identity and motive have not been released, was immediately arrested, the Associated Press reported.

Saad Hattar, a cousin, told AP that relatives and friends accompanying the writer to trial apprehended the killer.

Hattar’s family called on the Jordanian government to hold accountable those who had incited against the writer.

“Many fanatics wrote on social media calling for his killing and lying, and the government did nothing against them,” they said.

Saad Hattar said the family held Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki responsible for the killing.

“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,” he said.

In a statement to the Times, government spokesman Mohammad Momani said, “We will hold the perpetrator who committed this despicable act to justice and the government will respond with an iron fist to anyone who uses this incident as an opportunity to spread hate speech in society.”

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Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com