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Jordan: One Year On, Tensions Building Up

It's March 24th, 2012 – a year after the weekend that shocked Jordan domestically, further exacerbating a lethargic reform effort. It is the anniversary of the weekend when a diverse group of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman with the intent of open peaceful protest and were met with a counter group that called itself ‘Home Calling’ (Nidaa Watan). Nidaa Watan chanted in the name of their allegiance to King Abdullah, branded with symbols of patriotism, carrying pictures of the king as their tone and language grew in aggression. Global Voices curated some reactions from March 24th and March 25th, 2011.

Reflecting on that weekend, Mohanned al-Arabiat wrote last year on the citizen media site 7iber:

I won’t get into their funding and logistical support, but let me just say this: it had government hands all over it.The group set up a page on Facebook. The rhetoric was extremely fascist, with threats of violence and even a holocaust against the March 24 guys. Some commentators even quoted Hitler. The intention to harm was there for all the world to see it. One has to wonder if the state “saw” it.

In real life. The scene was ugly, but ONE thing was clear: One side was peaceful, the other side was not (read here). One side was hurling stones and insults, the other side was not.

Mohanned‘s observations continued:

Don’t say we are not ready or worthy of liberty and dignity. It is not about democracy, for democracy is but a tool. It is about us. Our humanity. Our innate dignity and God-given right to liberty. Hate and violence spewed by groups formed around the wrong values don’t indict the individuals, for individuals are less likely to hurt and be evil when “alone” or when they are detached from the aforementioned groups. Lets build groups around our rights.

Today, a year later, protests continue, tensions are growing, and Jordan is more fragmented than ever with evident reform talk fatigue. On one end, cases revealing years of rampant corruption are the talk of anyone and everyone. Repetitive failure towards political reform, government mismanagement of the economy and the absence of action-driven engaged public discourse. Occasional youth violence in the streets and on campus resulting in detainment. And a vocal condemnation of anything related to political and economic decisions of the last decade amid the absence of learned and sincere reflection on what worked and what didn't. And on the other end a playing down of these tensions or what seems like a blasé disregard to the need for better listening and to radically change our ways. New chasms surfacing, and the old deepening.

The Public Security Department (PSD), the Gendarmerie (Darak), and the General Intelligence Department (GID) have successfully managed to prevent mayhem with little confrontation and aggression with the street. However, I believe that the tense public discourse and ongoing protests echo a political, economic, social and cultural pressure cooker. The crisis? A failure to communicate.

Reflecting on March 24 and the year, last night Tayseer Al Kloob blogged (Ar):

أين الأردنيين؟ هل اكتفوا من هذا الحلم؟ ما هذه الأعداد التي لا توصل الصوت؟ هل سئم الناس؟ هل اكتفوا؟ هل نسوا؟ هل شبعوا؟ هل تحقق حلمهم؟ أين أبطال الديجيتال بالآلاف على الفيسبوك والتويتر؟ أنا يا سادتي المراقبين لا أحرّض بل أتساءل وأستفسر، فأنا شاب أردني بسيط لا يملك لهذا الوطن من خير أو شر إلا حلما يحمله في قلبه الصغير.
Where are the Jordanians? Have they had enough of this dream? What are these numbers with no voice? Are people fed up? Have they forgotten? Are they satiated? Has their dream come true? Where are the thousands of digital heroes from Facebook and Twitter? I am not provoking, but rather merely asking, as I'm a simple Jordanian and for this nation I hold a dream in my little heart.

This week in Amman, a series of events and debates are planned that aim to take stock of the year and delve into where some civic movements stand, conversations camped on:

- #JoDebate, today evening, March 24, by the Jordan Debate Club on whether the movement that continues to take to the streets is representative of Jordanians.
– #MaqhaAmman, Tuesday March 27th, by Maqha Amman AlSiyasi (Café Politique-Amman) a conversation among participants of last year's Dakhliyeh Circle protests.
– #HashtagDebates, Saturday March 31st, by 7iber.com debating the repercussions of the March 24 protests on the political scene and Jordan's reform movement.

1 comment

  • Michael

    Thank you for this update. Please continue posting and updating the rest of the world on the status of domestic stability in jordan. I am sorry to say, but I think you may be correct with your pressure cooker analogy.

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