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Senators, Deputies agree on Financial Disclosure; differ on preaching.

By Muhammad Sarheed Special to The Star The Legal Committee of the Lower House of Parliament recommended the adoption on Tuesday of the 2006 Money Laundering Draft Law, in a meeting chaired by Deputy Ghaleb Zu'bi and in the presence of Jordan Central Bank Chief, Dr Umayya Touqan. The committee amended some of the law's articles, which will be put for deliberations at upcoming parliamentary sessions. Meanwhile the Judicial Affairs Committee at the Upper House of Parliament (The Senate) met on Tuesday and recommended to Parliament the adoption of the Draft Law for the year 2003 as released by the Lower House (The deputies). Nevertheless, the same committee rejected the amendments of the Lower House to the Guidance & Preaching Draft Law, but accepted the reduction of penalties for violators of the said law. The same committee also accepted the Financial Disclosure Draft Law as returned by the Lower House of Parliament, which applies to all public employees, including the lawmakers, both senators and deputies, within the constraints of the law that respect the independence of the various branches of authority. The draft law on Guidance & Preaching which was discussed in the Lower House this week did not sail through under the Dome without any hitches, especially when it came to the new articles affecting religious preaching, teaching, and sermons in the mosques. This new draft law issued by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs (MAIF) requires any religious teacher who wants to preach in a mosque to get prior approval from MAIM. Furthermore, it stipulates that mosque preachers should be approved by the state, especially those giving Friday sermons at the country's mosques. The Lower House rejected the first amendment but accepted the second, which forms a setback for politicized Islamists seeking to enter the country's pulpits. Meanwhile, a majority of MPs rejected the amendments prescribed in the draft law, for harsher penalties on violators, including up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to JD600. Lawmakers kept the penalties under the old law, which stipulates up to one-month imprisonment and a fine of JD100. Mr Azzam Al-Hunaidi, the speaker of the Islamic Action-Front (IAF) parliamentary bloc, told The Star, "I am-really satisfied with the role of-the majority in the Lower House who were against the direction of the government, regarding a ban on religious teachers from giving Qur'anic lessons in mosques unless they secure a formal prior approval from MAIF." Hunaidi pointed out that it does not make sense for the government to restrict the role of preachers who just want to guide people towards more understanding of the true meaning of Islam, and its interaction with their daily life. Lawmaker Nidal-Abbadi said that the attempt to bring in harsher penalties was meant to "restrict freedoms" adding that it is in violation of article 14 of the Constitution which reads: " The State shall protect the rights to perform religious rituals, in accordance with the Kingdom's perceived norms, unless they are deemed in violation of public order or manners." Abbadi told The Star, "The amendments contradict with the citizens freedoms to give sermons in the mosques without asking for permission from MAIF," and added, "regarding the gaps in the previous law, we can amend them under the umbrella of the Constitution, as we cannot regard-anyone who wants-to teach religion a criminal who deserves harsh penalties." Concerning the amended Investment law, the discussions were to give more flexibility to the role of Investment institutions to strengthen the attractive environment in Jordan. The new law gives a bigger role to the big financial institutions such as banks in investing in big productive projects in Jordan. The new amendment was in Article 1 of the Banks' Law of 2000, which prohibits banks from holding shares of more than 50 percent in companies and mega projects.-Dr Hashim Al-Dabbas, the speaker of the Economic & Financial Committee in the Lower House, said, "I think the new Investment law will contribute towards an active role for the financial and investment institutions in order to create an attractive investment environment in Jordan." A*Senators, Deputies agree on Financial Disclosure; differ on preaching

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Sep 11, 2006
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