(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Deputies on Tuesday went on the offensive against journalists for their "abusive and prejudiced" coverage on their recent amendments to the 2012 Passports Law, under which serving and former MPs are to be granted permanent diplomatic passports.
Yesterday's Lower House session featured a series of anti-media tirades, with several deputies expressing dismay and anger over media outlets' "unjustified and severe attack" against MPs for their decision to give themselves and their predecessors diplomatic passports for life.
Meanwhile, the Jordan Press Association (JPA) denounced the "offensive" remarks by some MPs, calling on media outlets to boycott the deputies, which the syndicate described as "politically bankrupt".
The Lower House on Sunday passed its Legal Committee's amendments to Article 9 of the 2012 Passports Law, granting permanent diplomatic passports to Royal family members, serving and former premiers, ministers, Royal Court chiefs, King's advisers, senators, MPs and chief Islamic justices.
The government's version of the legislation granted such passports only to serving officials and parliamentarians.
Casting the media coverage of the Lower House vote as "defamation", some MPs called on House Speaker Abdul Karim Dughmi to prosecute the journalists, whom they accused of being bought off.
Others went even further than that, charging that these journalists "spend sleepless nights touring nightclubs".
MP Talal Faour (Balqa, 3rd District), said newspapers and radio and TV stations have been "fiercely and unjustifiably" attacking deputies over the past few days because of their decision to grant themselves permanent diplomatic passports.
"We were badly scorned by an indecent journalist working for a radio station only because we requested diplomatic passports," Faour said, adding: "We do not want red passports [diplomatic passports] anymore But no matter what deputies do, they will always remain under criticism."
For his colleague Maan Deputy Khalid Fanatseh, the problem was not only with the "corrupt" journalists but with some MPs who write for newspapers and criticise the House.
Fanatseh, who accused some journalists of receiving bribes and "spending their time in nightclubs", said: "Whether we are given lifetime pensions or permanent diplomatic passports or not, we will keep defending the country's causes and people's rights."
Deputy Salem Abdullah Hadban (Amman, 1st District), also accused the media of bias, saying: "I once asked a journalist about the reasons behind her ongoing criticism of deputies and she replied: 'It is because you refused to refer allegations of corruption in the privatisation of the phosphate company to the judiciary.'"
MP Ali Khalayleh (Zarqa, 2nd District) said journalists "have crossed all boundaries" when talking about the 16th Parliament, adding that "some of them deserve to be referred to the prosecutor general for investigation".
"There is an apparent campaign against the House from inside and outside the Chamber," Balqa Deputy Mustafa Shneikat charged, calling on Dughmi to stand firm against such "fierce attacks" and defend deputies.
Zarqa Deputy Mohammad Thahrawi criticised journalists for their "selectivity and lack of objectivity" .
"Why don't they criticise the appointed golden Chamber [Senate] Why is there an attack against the diplomatic passport and there was not against the 1994 Wadi Araba Peace Treaty with Israel?" he questioned.
However, a few MPs objected to their colleagues' "sentimental reactions" and "exaggerated attacks" against the press, including Mahmoud Kharabsheh (Balqa, 1st District), Mamdouh Abbadi (Amman, 3rd District), Mazen Qadi (Northern Badia) and Jamil Nimri (Irbid, 2nd District).
"All in all, what has been published in media outlets has to do with freedom of the press. It is always the job of the press to present controversial issues," Abbadi said.
"We should respect the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression," Kharabsheh said, adding that "the House and the press play a complementary role".
"Let us leave it to the House speaker's office," Qadi said. "We have to be more patient and not act sentimentally."
The Lower House conducted no other business Tuesday. Although the Health and Environment Committee's amendments to the 2004 Pharmacies and Drugs Law were on the agenda, the House session was adjourned before this item could be discussed.
Following yesterday's session, the JPA issued a statement denouncing the insults hurled at journalists under the Dome.
"What some MPs said about journalists yesterday is nothing but an expression of political bankruptcy, especially as some of them are busying themselves nowadays with obtaining personal gains at the expense of the citizens and the country," said the statement, a copy of which was sent to The Jordan Times.
The JPA council expressed bewilderment about the deputies' decision to give priority to acquiring personal benefits over their legislative duties.
"Some deputies, feeling that the House has lost its political and popular legitimacy, have lost their balance and started raising baseless accusations here and there," the JPA statement said.