Jordanian MP who brandished a gun on live TV may face attempted murder charge

Victim outraged that pistol was brought into studio, says he was subjected to ‘public bullying’ and that his assailant conveyed a dangerous message about freedom of speech

MP Shawabka (right) draws his gun, as the host tries to calm tempers, during a debate on Jordanian TV last week.  (photo credit: YouTube screen capture)
MP Shawabka (right) draws his gun, as the host tries to calm tempers, during a debate on Jordanian TV last week. (photo credit: YouTube screen capture)

A Jordanian member of parliament who pulled a gun on a political rival during a furious debate live on Jordanian TV could face a charge of attempted murder.

The MP, Mohammed Shawabka, was debating a political activist and former MP named Mansour Sayf al-Din Murad on the Jo Sat TV station on Thursday. The discussion escalated into a furious confrontation, at the height of which Shawabka pulled a pistol out of his waistband and brandished it at Murad.

Now Murad has filed a formal complaint against the MP, Jordanian media reported on Saturday, accusing Shawabka of attempted murder, libel and slander.

Murad told Jordan’s Gerasa News that Shawabka’s bringing a gun into a TV newsroom was “an insult to the media,” that he felt he had been subjected to a “public bullying,” and that for an MP to act in such a fashion conveyed the dangerous sense that one could be subjected to abuse and death threats simply for stating an opinion.

According to an Al Arabiya report, what most infuriated Shawabka was that Murad insulted his father. The same report said Shawabka’s driver also brawled with Murad, hitting him in the face before studio employees separated them.

The extraordinary scenes erupted as the two men discussed aspects of Jordanian politics including attitudes surrounding the uprising in Syria.

The debate became increasingly heated and personal, and each of the men accused the other of various crimes and deviancies. Shawabka claimed Murad was in the pay of the Syrian regime. Murad countered that Shawabka worked for the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency. “You’re a Mossad agent,” he said. “You’re a big crook,” came the response.

The MP stood up and began screaming and pointing at the activist, who was sitting opposite him, while the host of the program, Mohammed Habashneh, seated in the center, desperately urged his guests to “calm down.”

Instead, the MP sat back down, bent over and took off his right shoe, and threw it at the activist, who ducked behind his desk, knocking it over.

Then the MP pulled his gun — a silver pistol — from his waistband and briefly brandished it toward the activist, who walked toward him. The MP kept holding the gun, but was no longer pointing it at his critic.

The two men struggled, with the parliamentarian again careful now not to point the gun at his adversary, while the panicked host circumnavigated the strewn furniture to try to break up the fight.

But the two men would not be easily separated, and the brawl continued live on screen for some time before the program cut to the credits.



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