In the Memory of Nahed Hattar

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Sun 24 September / Sep 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

September 25th, 2017, marks the passing of on year, since Nahed Hattar’s martyrdom.

It was a crime unprecedented in our history. One that has opened our eyes to the beast lying deep in the belly of our society.

Even though the terrorist assassin was brought to justice, and has met his fair fate shortly after he committed his audacious crime, nothing comes close to mending the wound and grave loss of such a great intellectual.

The hurt that has come upon us, and his family above all, will not be mended in time!

Granted that the late thinker’s stances and ideas did not appeal to the general consensus, as controversial as he was. Few saw our reality in the same light.

But without him, and others like him, this society we take so much pride in is meaningless..

Today, more than ever, the likes of Nahed Hattar, as few as they may be, are a beacon in the dark, and so is the memory of the martyr himself, shining through the wasteland.

As the tide of oppression rises across the Arab World, to supress all variation and impose a most tyrannical for of uniformity, the voice of plurality grows ever so necessary.

Nahed was an embodiment of our struggles and our right to have our own ideas, no matter how different. But people who do not respect another’s right to live, will not respect an individual’s right be themselves, as different or controversial as they may be.

The truth is that Nahed was not killed because of a post he shared, which he deleted just seconds afterwards, and apologies to all who took offence.

He was assassinated for being a living, talking, writing, outright embodiment of differentiation and variety, something the Takfirists and tyrants will not put up with!

He was assassinated for his resume of differentiation, not on account of his political stances on issues of the hour!

Now, every Arab and Jordanian intellectual is open to meet Hattar’s same fate, regardless of their ideology; Marxist or Islamist, just the same.

In the meantime, not a single Arab society has provided a safe haven for thought in the entire modern history of the Arab World.

Even Lebanon, the country known for its plurality and variety has seen dozens of similar assassinations.

As for us in Jordan, even though we were always aware of this painful truth, and most of us agree on the dangers of extremism in our society, Hatter’s assassination took us by surprise!

Shortly afterwards, the events in Karak were cause for disillusionment. Among us are terrorists who will not hesitate to kill their own people!

This was the harsh and shocking truth.

Of course, knowing is one thing, but experiencing it first-hand is something else.

Thankfully, the state’s response to terrorism was decisive. Everybody involved in any act of terrorism was sentenced to death, sending a clear message, while the lesser counts were grounds for intensified jail sentences. But that is not enough.

The Hattar incident was fairly different.

A social trend and tendency to condone terrorism and extremism was not to be met by the mere official condemnation of the state.

It should have raised an official and popular response of a different kind, beyond legal processing, as opposed to the silence!

We should address the outcomes and repercussions of Hattar’s assassination, and learn from it.

The right of thought, belief, and expression is sacred to the human society, and such a violation of massive gravity should be commemorated.

For instance, the Writers Association has yet to announce an award in the martyr’s name, even though Nahed Hattar was one of the Association’s grandest figures.

Also, not a street or square in Amman was named after him, the city he held so close to his heart. The city he has always committed himself to, as an “Ammani citizen”. For years he spared not a breath to defend its culture and heritage.

Meanwhile, the “martyr” Abdullah Azzam has a street named after him!

It isn’t like he had met his fate in a car accident; he was assassinated by terrorists, for goodness sake. He was not a terrorist killed in Afghanistan!

He was a thinker and an intellectual assassinated here; in Amman!

This dismissal of the martyr’s great sacrifice only puts us to shame for our hypocrisy. How we pretend to respect others’ opinions while we cower in the face of an overwhelming current that rejects and condemns one’s right to think for themselves and express!

Some try to crucify Nahed for his political positions while deliberately turning a blind eye to his intellectual and cultural products. They ignore all the work he did to uncover the core of the Jordanian identity, and his unfailing endeavour to support Jordanian intellectuals and publish their works!

On this occasion, I’d like to point to the fact that Hattar hated politics. For many years he wished he had the time to dedicate himself to literature, to leave the political sphere.

In his latest years, he had dreamt about writing a play, but the scene all around us gave him no air to breathe, up until the moment he spent his last breath dying for us all, last year, on the 25th of September, 2016.

On that day, the last chapter of his life was written in sacrifice and blood, to ever be remembered by those stand true to freedom and our rights to be ourselves.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.