15 January 2011

Day of Anger in Jordan

Following the example of the Tunisian protests, our Twitter community rallied round a “Day of Anger”. It was announced on 12th and took place downtown on 14th January after Friday prayers. Protests were also mounted simultaneously in Irbid, Karak and Dhiban. The primary focus of the protest was rising prices. However, political disenfranchisment and concerns about the government led by Prime Minister Samir Rifai were also addressed.

Reports estimated about 400 people in Amman. I was there. Far, far more than 400 people were there. I am certain there were no fewer than a couple thousand. Look at my pictures; I think you will agree.
The Muslim Brotherhood were expected to take part, but at the last moment they decided to hold their own protest and have decided to stage a sit-in on Sunday.

Sadly, one government institution was not there. The office press did not cover the protest at all. I saw TV cameras from other stations there, though.

The demonstration was very peaceful and orderly. In accordance with the urges of the Twitter community all anger was directed in the right direction and not at each other. There was no violence or even near-violence that I observed. However, when we reached the end of the street and cars were once again allowed to pass I did witness one man who went out of his way to drive his car into the crowd. Again, there was no retaliation from the protesters, but the police very quickly put an end to his prank.

Several people took to the stage and made empassioned speeches and all the crowd were emotionally moved. We are in a precarious position here in Amman. Jobs are simply not to be found. The fortunate few who have landed a job are very, very poorly paid. Add to this the continual upward spiral of prices and taxes and you have the perfect growth media for anger and dissatisfaction. Our sales tax alone here is 16%!! Before His Majesty ordered a price reduction two days ago, gasoline had reached 0.6900 JD per litre. For my western family and friends that comes to about $2.61 per gallon.

Now, try to imagine this: A man with 3 children and a wife works 12 hours per day and earns 180 JD ($250) per month. That’s right; per month! How can this man even come close to paying his rent, water, electric and still buy food for his family? What about tuition for his kids to go to school? 
Clothes are needed, too. And somehow he has to stretch these 180 dinars to cover all this.

Anger? Dissatisfaction? How can they not be angry when they see government officials and civil servants earning 10 times his salary at his expense??? They drive the newest, most fancy automobiles and live in villas located away from the poorer sections so they don’t have to soil themselves by being in their neighborhoods.

Despite the poverty, disenfranchisement and general rough treatment they somehow still manage to be the most hospitable and generous people I have ever had the privilege to know. I am very proud to call them my friends and family. 

A sea of people

400 protesters? The "officials" need to learn to count!

Marching with the brothers

The sign says "Beware of my hunger and anger!"

Algerian flag

In the thick of it!

abo Zaky came too!

A Parliament on al-Rifai's way - Stop rising prices!

"Break the fellowship and tear down al-Rifai's government"

Beware my hunger and anger!

The citizens are taking high prices up the arse

Red sign (with pita) "Where are you my dear?" Orange sign "Cold and hunger!!!"

"Where is the Ministry of ...?? (The Ministry that sets prices, I can't remember the English word)

No matter the occasion, we must ensure the hair is carefully combed over...

Top: Prime Minister al-Rifai
Red line: Poor people
We can clearly see where his loyalty lies...

Speeches at the end of the street

As we walked back to the car I saw live chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys for sale

This cock is a beaut, isn't he?

These two are just happy to be out of the cage!

Courtyard of al-Husseini Mosque

Jim, just before going inside to rest a bit

Buyers, sellers and onlookers on the pavement outside the mosque

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