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Outrage over Jordan trial for Yemeni teenager's 'blasphemous' Facebook posts

Tujan al-Bukhairi has almost 300,000 followers on Facebook [Facebook]

Date of publication: 23 January, 2020

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A Yemeni teenager will go on trial in Jordan over re-posting allegedly 'blasphemous' social media content on her private accounts.
A Yemeni high-school has appeared in court in Jordan charged with blasphemy and "insulting religious feelings" after reported her to the authorities and barred her from class following posts on her private social media pages, including writings by her father, a Yemeni activist.

The case of Tujan al-Bukhaiti, 17, has prompted outrage across social media with a number of high-profile figures bringing up her case, shocked at Jordan’s harsh treatment of a minor, despite kingdom's reputation as tolerant of different religious beliefs.

Thursday's hearing, which was adjourned pending the participation of the Department for Virtual Crimes, which filed the blasphemy case against Bukhaiti, was the second time the high-school senior has been summoned to court over her posts on social media.

Tujan holds refugee status in Jordan and is being tried in an adult court.

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Bukhaiti was first summoned by her school in December and asked to cease posting on her accounts until the end of the term. Tujan refused on grounds of freedom of expression, and she was later suspended.

Her school released a lengthy statement accusing the 17-year-old of "spreading toxic thoughts" among her classmates. Other reports claim parents of her classmates were outraged by her posts and reported her to the school, who escalated the claims to the authorities.

Tujan is the daughter of Ali Al-Bukhaiti, a Yemeni politician and writer based in London after defecting from the Houthi rebels, and is now known for his anti-Islamist views.

She lives with her mother and uncle in Jordan, as her father was forced to leave Jordan and claim political asylum in the UK.

Several Jordanian politicians and activists have visited Tujan at her home to raise the profile of her case.

Prominent Yemeni figures such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman have also shown solidarity with Tujan online. 

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has called on Jordanian authorities to stop the "unfair" trial of Al-Bukhaiti.

"My intention was to open discussions about some intellectual issues that affect Yemen and Yemenis," said Tujan in response to the case.

"I won't let them break me even if [they make me] miss ten school years, because if you fall once, you will keep on falling," she added.

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