Letter: Not fair to King Hussein Jordan's human rights record

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ROBERT FISK highlights the hazards associated with reporting human rights abuses in the Arab world ("I am a crow, a rabid dog and a nobody", 17 March). His view is shared by many Arab journalists.

However, his earlier report on the trial of the Jordanian dissident Laith Shubailat ("Fighting talk from the thorn in Jordan's side", 3 March) failed to project a rounded view .

King Hussein and Crown Prince Hassan, out of all Middle Eastern leaders, are known for their tolerance and non-vindictiveness. Even Amnesty International admits that in the past few years Jordan has been free from political executions, extra-judicial killings and disappearances. It is true that military and state security courts are an affront to human rights. Yet Fisk doesn't mention that military courts, despite recent castigations from the European Court for Human Rights, still exist in Britain.

Fisk overlooks the domestic pressures on King Hussein, for example the non-delivery of the highly trumpeted peace "dividend", a situation exacerbated by demographic tensions resulting from the destabilising impact of Arafat's limited autonomy deal with Israel. The PLO's irredentist Palestinian nationalism has hit at the essence of the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Jordanian identity which King Hussein has promoted.

Substantial numbers of Jordanians of Palestinian origin, especially West Bankers, still consider the 1950 unity between Jordan and the West Bank valid, with King Hussein the rightful sovereign.

Having said the above, however, I should add that Fisk's investigative reporting on the Arab world is very welcome. His recent winning of the first SAIS-Ciba Prize for Excellence in International Journalism following his acclaimed reports on Algeria testify to his professionalism.

Lu'ayy Minwer Al-Rimawi

LSE Jordanian Student Society, London WC2