As an outsider looking in, I am baffled by the continued racist attitudes prevailing in this Kingdom. I am reminded of my own youth back in the US during the height of the civil rights movement when most of the country was gripped by a “we versus they” mentality. The native and tribal Jordanians seethe with distrust of the Palestinian Jordanians. A great percentage see the Palestinian as scum, unworthy of Jordanian citizenship. Consequently, there is a deep seated distrust and animosity toward the natives on the part of the Palestinian society.
On the other hand, within my own circle of friends I can number both Palestinian and native Jordanians who routinely interact in a spirit of genuine friendship and affection. I am truly bamboozled by the fact that such trust and cameraderie doesn’t seem to be possible on a nation-wide basis. Why is that? Can anyone reading this offer any reasonable explanation? All round the kingdom both factions live in similar circumstances. Unemployment and poverty prevail across all strata of the society.Yet, somehow it is impossible for people to band together in something as important as reforming the government to the benefit of all citizens without the racist card being thrown to the table. Naturally, when one’s heritage is slandered all other considerations are pushed aside because no man will allow himself to be pushed down based on his ethnicity. Am I demonstrating my simplicity of mind when I say that everyone here is, above all Arab?
As I watch and occasionally report on the ReformJO movement in general and the events over the weekend at the Interior Ministry, several questions arise.
· The anti-reform group appear to be very well organized. Who is responsible for orchestrating their actions?
· Who is responsible for getting anti-reformists from all round the kingdom into the prostests?
· How and why has the ReformJO movement devolved into a Jordanian vs. Palestinian fight?
· Who started the rumors that Hezbollah and Iran were organizing the reform protests, and why?
· Why did the police suddenly go from protecting the protesters to viciously beating and arresting them when they were clearly under attack from the anti-reformists?
Until the weekend just past the reform protests have taken place peacefully and without violent incident, with the one minor exception for more than three months. The King is, in my opinion, doing everything in his power to help his kingdom evolve into a more democratic constitutional monarchy. All the demands of the reform protesters echo the demands His Majesty has put on his government. Despite this, the anti-reformists accuse the protesters of wanting to unseat the King. They accuse them of being disloyal and treasonous.
Shocking as the events that took place Saturday at Ministry of Interior Circle, nothing could exceed the shock I, and many others felt when the Fajir (morning) prayers were interrupted by the anti-reformists blaring loud patriotic music over gigantic speakers. Nothing is more culturally taboo than to play music during Athan. Muslims disrespecting Muslims at prayer. To prevent a man communing with his God seems to me to be the ultimate insult. Is it possible, or likely that there is a malevolent group keeping in the invisible background as they orchestrate disharmony and discord in order to preserve the divided society as it presently exists in Jordan? Is Jordanian society doomed to live with the extremes of abject poverty and unemployment and well-connected, highly paid weath? Is it to always be impossible for a young man, regardless of his education, intelligence and drive to lift himself up to a better, more fulfilling life because of his heritage? These are weighty questions, and I wish I had answers.