Jordan Militants Get Heavy Sentence for Church Bomb Plot

Jordan's military court sentenced on Monday three Jordanian extremists to 22 1/2 years in jail for a plot to bomb a Catholic church last May.

The judge explained that he gave the two-decade sentence because he believes the bomb plot itself, even if it failed, was a "danger to the state and its people," according to The Associated Press.

Authorities were able to prevent the attack last year when the group's mastermind was arrested for speeding on the day of the planned bombing. The three had planned to detonate a vehicle filled with explosives in front of a Catholic church in the capital city, Amman.

In general, Jordan is known to be a moderate Muslim country despite being located in the Middle East and having a more than 90 percent Sunni Muslim population. Christians are estimated to make up only about four to six percent of the population.

Jordan's Queen Rania is well known around the world for speaking against Muslim extremism and violence in the name of religion. She is also an outspoken advocate of women's rights and protecting children from violence.

But last year a U.S. State Department report warned that Jordan as well as Sunni-dominated Algeria in northern Africa – both countries with traditionally respectable religious freedom records – are new spots of Islamic fundamentalism and religious intolerance.

In Jordan, a sharia court found a convert to Christianity from Islam guilty of apostasy. The judge then annulled his marriage and declared him to have no religious identity.

Also, the government reportedly harassed individuals and organizations because of their religious affiliations, according to the State Department report.

The report covered the time period between July 2007 to July 2008 and was released in September.