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Jordan: Sentencing of Critical Football Club President

Reports surfaced on the afternoon of December 23rd that Tareq Sami Khoury had been charged with assaulting and insulting a gendarme officer and sentenced to two years in prison. Khoury, a member of the previous parliament, lost his bid for reelection in Jordan's November 9th Parliamentary elections. He was back in the spotlight, though, just weeks later as the president of the Wihdat football club. Khoury was vocal in criticizing police forces, alleging brutality against fans of his Wihdat club.

Khoury was tried and sentenced in absentia while on a trip to Qatar, and Twitter immediately lit up with tweets linking to news stories:

Report: Tarek Khoury sentenced to 2 years in prison for insulting gendarmerie officer http://bit.ly/eklrpK #Amman #JO

At The Black Iris, Naseem Tarawnah's initial response was to link the arrest to the football events:

It may go without saying, that in the past few weeks, since the one tragic football managed to reignite tensions between two major Jordanian camps – that things have been just a bit tense when it comes to the identity issue…Today, things just got worse.

This – this is terrible timing…Just like people assume without a doubt that the events that occurred in the recent match were racially motivated, they will assume without a doubt that Khoury’s court case is politically motivated. And if there were indeed any coordinated efforts to nudge this case along in an attempt to silence Khoury, the state has just managed to turn the guy in to a hero and solidify his base, if not gain him other supporters.

Twitter user A7lamShams was skeptical of Tarawnah's analysis:

@tarawnah wat does this have to do w/ #JO identity? case has been in court 4 a yr! Tarek khoury needs to take responsibly 4 his actions.

To which Tarawnah countered:

@A7lamShams well the timing of the verdict falls in to the pot of an event that has generated the identity debate. this is the point.

Tarawnah further points out that information is thin as to when Khoury's alleged assault of an officer took place. Reports variously state two years ago, and in March 2010. The verdict has yet to be released to the public.

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