Last Updated 19 June 2023

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a sovereign state with a constitutional monarchy in western Asia with a total population of approximately 11,148 million.1World Bank data 2021, (Last checked 25,04,2023). More than 90% of citizens are Sunni Muslims and there are small communities of Christians – predominantly Greek Orthodox – Shiites, Baha’i and Druzes.2;;

Jordan significantly restricts freedom of religion, belief, and expression. The constitution, government policy, and practice, strongly favors Islam and punishes criticism of Islam as well as criticism of the ruling family and system of government.

Jordan is a founding member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Constitution and government Education and children’s rights Family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals Freedom of expression advocacy of humanist values
Grave Violations
Severe Discrimination
Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory

Constitution and government

According to the Constitution,3 Islam is state religion (Article 2) and the King must be Muslim (Article 28). All government ministers are required to take an oath before the King, swearing by “God, the Almighty, to be loyal to the King, uphold the Constitution, serve the nation and perform the duties entrusted to me with honesty.” There is no alternative.

Article 14 of the Constitution provides for the freedom to practice the rites of one’s religion and faith in accordance with the customs that are observed in the Kingdom, unless they violate public order or morality.

Discrimination on the basis of religion is prohibited (Article 6 of the Constitution), however, some religious groups that are not included in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), are denied official recognition. Article 108 of the Constitution implicitly stipulates the possibility of recognizing non-Muslim religions. Until 2014, there was a law called the “Law on Assemblies of Non-Muslim Religious Strains,” but Parliament voted to redesignate it as the “Law on Assemblies of Christian Strains”4Number (28) 2014 according to the new law, the “Law on Assemblies of Non-Muslim Religious Strains” was eliminated. The name was changed in Parliament and on the recommendation of the Legal Affairs Committee. This change was approved by members by members of the government on the grounds that there are no other non-Christian religious sects in Jordan.5

Anecdotal evidence suggests that employment applications for government positions occasionally contain questions about an applicant’s religion.

Religious privilege

Islamic religious groups are granted recognition through the constitution and do not need to register with the government. Non-Islamic religious groups must obtain official recognition by registering with the authorities in order to operate, and receive tax exemptions, among other benefits. Only Islamic religious groups receive government subsidies.6 It does not appear possible for non-religious groups to receive the same benefits.

The government appoints imams and pays their salaries. It also monitors sermons at mosques.

According to the electoral law for 2022, Christians are allocated nine of 138 parliamentary seats. Christians may not run for office in electorates not designated as Christian seats. No seats are reserved for adherents of other minority religious groups. The law stipulates that Muslims must hold all parliamentary seats not specifically reserved for Christians.7Electoral law N(4) 2022 (

The judiciary

Section 6 of the Constitution divides Jordanian courts into three categories: civil; religious; and special. Civil courts have jurisdiction over all persons in all matters be they civil or criminal, except in matters that fall within the jurisdiction of religious or special courts (see ‘Family, Community and Society’ for more information).

Education and children’s rights

By law, public schools are required to teach Islamic religion as part of the basic national curriculum. However, non-Muslims are allowed to opt out. Islamic religion is an optional subject within the secondary education curriculum for non-Muslim students following the standard curriculum, as well as Muslim students following international curricula. It is unclear if non-religious students wanting to opt out from Islamic religious instruction or Quranic knowledge are able to do so in practice.

Reforms in 2016 aimed at countering radicalization ensure classes covering the dangers of terrorism and stressing that the “true essence of Islam” is based on tolerance, moderation and

All students preparing for the government exams in their final year, at both public and private schools, must learn Quranic verses as part of the Arabic language compulsory subject. As such, non-Muslim students are required to demonstrate the same knowledge of the Quran as Muslim students in order to be eligible to attend university. Islamic themes also appear in lesson examples in other subjects throughout the national curriculum.9

The Constitution permits religious groups to establish and maintain schools for the education of the members of their congregation provided that they comply with law, and submit to the control of the government in matters relating to the curriculum (Article 19).

Children’s rights

In 2017, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concerns regarding the Jordanian Nationality Act, according to which children of Jordanian women married to non-nationals are precluded from obtaining Jordanian nationality at birth.10 To date, there have been no changes to address the discriminatory practices established in the law.11

Although the legal age to marry is 18 years old, if approval by a judge or legal guardian is obtained, then children are allowed to marry at the age of 15.

In 2020, 95% of child marriage requests were approved. The number of marriages for those under the age of 18 reached 7,964.12

The “Children’s Rights Law”13 was introduced in Jordan’s parliament in July 2022 after decades of advocacy by local rights groups. The first draft of the law appeared in 1998 but was ultimately not passed.

Before its passage, the draft law, submitted by the government in July, sparked controversy that it undermined Islam. Article (8) of the bill guarantees the respect of children’s right to their private life and considers that any illegal intervention of their family is a violation of the aforementioned law. Opponents of the bill saw in Article (8) danger of potential forced separation of children from their families.

Some opponents of the bill argued that the new law would incite children to leave their religion, referring to article (7), which states: “With due regard to the legislation in force, the child shall have the right to freedom of expression; either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice. The views of the child shall be considered according to his age and degree of maturity.”

The amended bill dropped a clause that prohibited granting parents immunity from punishment if they beat their children. Another clause was amended to give the male guardian, not the mother, more say in deciding how to raise the child. Clauses protecting the privacy of children were largely maintained.14

Family, community and society

Religious jurisdiction in family law

Articles 103-106 of the Constitution establish that matters concerning the personal status of Muslims – and children of a Muslim father – are under the exclusive jurisdiction of Sharia courts, which apply Sharia in their proceedings. Personal status, or “family law”, includes religion, marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance. Personal status law follows the guidelines of the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence. According to the US Department of State, Sharia courts do not recognize converts from Islam to other religions, considering them Muslims subject the Sharia rather than subject to the jurisdiction of their new religious community. However, they are regarded as ‘apostates’ (see ‘apostasy’ below) and may have their marriages annulled or be disinherited.15

Christian religious tribunals handle personal status matters for Christians, under the jurisdiction of Tribunals of Religious Communities, according to Article 108. The appointment of judges of the religious courts must be approved by royal decree. According to the US State Department,16 “members of recognized religious groups lacking their own courts may take their cases to civil courts, which, in principle, follow the rules and beliefs of the litigants’ denomination in deciding cases, unless both parties to a case agree to use a specific religious court. There are no tribunals for atheists or adherents of unrecognized religious groups. Such individuals must request a civil court to hear their case.”

Interfaith marriage and religious conversions

Religious conversion is generally frowned upon by society, and interfaith romantic relationships are discouraged. As detailed above, those who conversions to a faith other than Islam are not recognized.

In accordance with Sharia law, a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man; the husband would be expected to convert to Islam for the marriage to be deemed legal. There is no legal provision for civil marriage or divorce for members of unrecognized religious groups.

As religion is transmitted from father to child, should a man convert to Islam, his children will be considered Muslims, and would be considered ‘apostates’ were they to convert to another religion or belief in later life.

The level of stigma associated with converting from one religion to another is suggestive of the difficulties that non-religious individuals might face, particularly if they leave a religious group.

Women’s rights

Women face discrimination in law and practice. Despite a 2010 amendment, which widened women’s access to divorce and child custody, women remain discriminated in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. Muslim men are allowed to marry Jewish or Christian women, Muslim women cannot marry a non-Muslim man.

According to the Arab Women Organization of Jordan (AWOJO), as of 2018 some 15-20 women are the victim of so called “honor killings” for contravening social norms each year.17 The penal code18With latest revisions as for 2021 in Arabic ( contains provisions that provide for reduced sentences for those who murder their spouses where it is discovered that they have committed adultery (Article 340). Although the Ministry of Justice considers laws to protect women against sexual harassment, women are inadequately protected against domestic and sexual violence. The legal age of marriage of women is 18 years, unless a judge gives a special permission.

Jordanian women, who are married to foreigners, can not pass on their nationality to their spouses or children (Article 9).

LGBTI+ rights

While consensual same-sex relationships are legal in Jordan, vaguely-worded provisions in law relating to “morality” and “public norms and values” have been used to harass members of the LGBTI+ community, and prohibit the distribution of books that “promote homosexuality.”19;; Hate speech from politicians is reportedly rife.20

According to Human Rights Watch,21

“State actors in Jordan have undermined lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people’s right to privacy with digital targeting, namely entrapment on social media and dating applications, online harassment and “outing,” online extortion, monitoring social media, and reliance on illegitimately obtained digital evidence in prosecutions.”

Gay marriage remains illegal.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Constitution (Article 15) “within the limits of the law.” This limitation has enabled the state to place increasing restrictions on the realization of this right in practice. The authorities use a range of measures including surveillance, arbitrary detention and the use of repressive laws in order to restrict the rights in practice.22;,-violate-free-expression

Vaguely-worded laws such as the Anti-Terrorism Law No. 55 of 2006,23 the Press and Publications law,24 and the Cybercrimes Law25 – as well as provisions in the penal code that criminalize defamation, criticism of the king and denigration of government officials – have been used to curtail both freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.26;

Between 2019-2022, Human Rights Watch investigated 30 cases in which authorities used overly broad criminal defamation provisions to arrest and charge citizens for peacefully expressing political opinions on social media platforms or in public gatherings.27


Laws against “blasphemy” in Jordan, while comparatively more moderate than some other Islamic states, are punishable with a prison term. The Jordanian Penal Code criminalizes blasphemy against Abrahamic religions stating that anyone who dares to publicly scorn or curse any of the profits shall be punished by imprisonment from one to three years (Article 273).

Additionally, Article (278), provides a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding 20 dinars (approx. $28) for anyone who 1. Publishes any print, writing, picture or effigy calculated or tending to outrage the religious feelings or belief of other persons , or; 2. Utters in a public place and in the hearing of another person any word or sound calculated or tending to outrage the religious feelings or belief of such person.

In November 2021, freedom of expression NGO Article 19 called for authorities to drop charges laid against poet Zulaikha Abu Risha, who reportedly faced charges under Article 278 for comments made on Facebook. In the wake of her comments that the voices of people who recite the Quran or perform the call to prayer should be harmonious and sound pleasing to the ear, the poet reportedly faced threats.28 Sources close to the poet indicate that she has faced five separate cases over the past two years, and been found not guilty in all but one of them. The remaining case is pending before a Sharia court, where Abu Risha faces accusations of “apostasy”. She continues to receive death threats.

Breaking fast publicly during the month of Ramadan comes also under the section of “Crimes Relating to Religion” and is punishable by a penalty of up to one month of imprisonment or a fine of up to twenty-five dinars Article (274).


Apostasy from Islam is banned in Jordan. Although not expressly outlawed through legislation. . A person convicted of apostasy is punished by being deemed as officially having ‘no religion,’ meaning that under Jordanian law that person is stripped of their civil rights, the ability to get a job, and loses all legal relationships with their family.

The legal problems of atheists and non-religious apostates face are due to the personal status law,29 which is the main law based on Islamic Sharia rules. Jordanian laws and legislations do not punish apostasy, except that according to the law of personal status, an apostate is to be divorced against his will (Article 142), depriving him of the rights of inheritance (Article 281), and children’s custody (Article 171).

The Penal Code deals with crimes that blaspheme against religion in a number of its articles (see the section on blasphemy above). It is easy to adapt these laws as charges for those who declare their atheism. Article 273 of the law prescribes a penalty of up to three years in prison for “anyone who dares to publicly scorn or curse any of the profits”. This can be interpreted to mean that merely stating that one does not believe in the existence of a Creator can be seen as contempt for religions.

Highlighted cases

In 2016, Nahed Hattar, a writer and cartoonist, was shot and killed outside a courthouse in Amman where he was standing trial for blasphemy. Mr Hattar, who considered himself an Atheist, had posted a cartoon on Facebook titled ‘the God of Daesh(ISIS)’ that depicted a militant lying in bed with two women and asking God to bring him a drink. His shooter, Riyad Ismail, was arrested at the scene and handed the death penalty a few months;


“I came out as an atheist in 2008 and I didn’t face any problems with my close environment, because my almost everybody around me in my family, university and work has the same views towards religion. But I am scared of telling about my atheism to anyone outside of this circle, because of the harassment that I might be exposed to. The Jordanian society does not really enjoy freedom of religion.”

— Fatin


1 World Bank data 2021, (Last checked 25,04,2023).
4 Number (28) 2014
6, 9, 15, 16
7 Electoral law N(4) 2022 (
18 With latest revisions as for 2021 in Arabic (
21, 27

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