Newsweeks Dan Ephron forteller historien om en Ali Hattar fra Jordan. Hattar omtaler USA som en kriminell stat, Israel kun som sionistisk. Han er aktiv med foredrag. I desember ble han puttet inn. Hvordan rimer det med Bush’ visjon av et demokratisk Midtøsten, og all rosen Jordan får som et foregangsland? Kort sagt: omfatter demokratiprosjektet også krefter på ytterkantene? Ehpron gjoer et nummer av at Hattar ikke oppfordrer til vold, men ideologien hans ligger farlig naer de som gjoer det.

li Hattar knew the lecture would land him in trouble with the Jordanian authorities. In a dingy hall in Amman last December, under a slightly crooked photograph of King Abdullah, Hattar delivered a 90-minute PowerPoint presentation that depicted the United States as a criminal state and called on Jordanians to boycott U.S. products. Much of his argument relied on embellishments and conspiracy theories that circulate widely in the Middle East. One slide showed images of bombed-out Falluja, a seat of Sunni resistance in Iraq, above the caption hiroshima 2. A photo montage portrayed the McDonald’s arches in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, with the commentary, this is how they respect religions. Its crudeness notwithstanding, the presentation was enough to infuriate the Mukhabarat–Jordan’s domestic intelligence service–which Hattar believes had planted agents in the audience. «I said to my wife when I left the house that I would not be coming back that night,» the 59-year-old mechanical engineer told me recently, standing in the same hall where he had delivered the fateful speech. He wasn’t exactly right: The authorities actually came for him the following day.

His political activity is confined to the lectures he gives at the headquarters of Jordan’s professional unions–engineers, doctors, lawyers, and journalists–and to the columns he writes for the weekly newspaper Al Sabeel. He’s not even an Islamic fundamentalist. Hattar is a Christian whose rhetoric is laced with the frayed clichés of 1960s pan-Arabism. To him, Israel is almost always «the Zionist state» or «the Zionist entity,» and he has spent years discouraging members of the country’s professional unions from forging business and cultural ties with Israel, with which Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994.

Etter 911 har Jordan skjerpet årvåkenheten overfor ytterliggående ideologi. Vesten oensker en cedarrevolusjon, ikke en gjentakelse av Algerie/FIS.

«It’s hard to take [Bush] seriously when things are only getting worse here,» says Hani Dahleh, a lawyer who heads Jordan’s Arab Organization for Human Rights.

Jordan har opprettet et senter for menneskerettigheter som formelt er uavhengig. Sjefen er en tidligere leder av sikkerhetstjenesten Mukhabarat.

Surprisingly, many Jordanian officials who speak proudly of their country’s relative political openness approve of Hattar’s arrest. Mamdouh Abbadi, a lawmaker and a former mayor of Amman, told me Jordan was not yet ready for full democracy and might fall under Islamic rule if the process were rushed. «We don’t have a solid base of political parties, and, without parties, you can’t just order democracy,» he said.

At Ephron er overrasket over at noen støtter undertrykkelsen, er i seg selv overraskende.

Artikkelen står i the New Republic og krever sub.