Archive for the 'Jordan' Category

Sep 07 2016

Why Is Jordan refusing entry to Gaza Palestinians?

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Sharif Muhaisen is worried about losing his job. Muhaisen works for Sanad, a construction industries company in Ramallah owned by the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF). Muhaisen is responsible for importing cement from Jordan. “We import about 500,000 tons of cement from Jordan every year,” he told Al-Monitor by phone from his home in Ramallah.

As part of his job, Muhaisen must travel to Jordan to meet with various cement companies, attend workshops and for other work-related reasons. Since summer 2015, however, Jordan has denied Muhaisen entry.

“Although I was born in Gaza, I have lived all my life in the West Bank, but I still need a special entry permit from the Jordanian authorities,” he said. “Since last summer, [the Jordanian authorities] have consistently denied me an entry permit.” Muhaisen provided Al-Monitor with a screen shot of text messages informing him that his requests had been denied.

Muhaisen, whose wife and two children have Jordanian passports because they were born on the West Bank, have no problem crossing the King Hussein Bridge into the kingdom. Up until the summer of 2015, “It took a few days to get the Jordanian authorities to issue the needed permit, but since my last application in June [2015], I and many others have been regularly rejected,” Muhaisen said. Continue Reading »

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Sep 01 2016

An ill-advised act

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

Election season is a time for ideas, initiatives and actions. It is also a real test for the commitment of a state to democracy.

This week, this democratic test met a challenge and the result was not very good.

A group of young Jordanians decided to hold an election-awareness event. They rented a public location in Jabal Luweibdeh, contacted a number of election experts, including a woman member of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and announced the event on Facebook.

As per the amended Jordanian Constitution, they informed the Amman governor of their public event 48 hours before it was due to start.

Three and a half hours before the launch of the Hiwar lil tagheer (dialogue for change) the governor of Amman called the owners of Sakyat Al Darawish, its intended location, and informed him that the event is not allowed to take place.

The young organisers panicked slightly, but soon contacted a local radio station that agreed to accommodate the invited speakers and guests.  Continue Reading »

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Aug 25 2016

Separating politics from religion

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo        byline-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

Colourful posters of smiling candidates are not new among election-related paraphernalia. But a certain orange-colour poster caught people’s attention because of the slogans it contained.

One slogan read: “No to the exploitation of religion.”

Another affirmed support “for a civilian state”. A third showed two arrows going to opposite direction with the words “politics” and “religion”.

As religious extremism grows in the region, a strong movement that believes in the separation of politics from religion is starting to grow.

A popular Facebook group called “towards a civilian state in Jordan” has attracted over 2,000 members and includes some serious discussions and debates.

This attempt at secularisation is being replicated in many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, despite the strong push back by religious groups and individuals who feel that talk of separating religion from politics is heresy and an imported ideology. Continue Reading »

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Aug 04 2016

Accident exposes hate, intolerance

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

The incident was tragic by any standard, but the response appears even more tragic.

When Shadi Abu Jaber, a 17-year-old Jordanian, along with another passenger died in a car accident in Amman, social media users started talking about the young man whose life was cut short. 

Among other things, friends recalled various things about young Abu Jaber, including that his mother sang in a local church (his uncle is an evangelical pastor) and that he was a guitar player in a local band.

Words of condolences filled the Facebook page of a local TV station’s website that broke the story. People used the normal words in such occasions, such as “Allah yerhamo” (May God have mercy on him).

The outpouring of warm words and condolences apparently did not please some people who seem to have a problem with such normal human reaction.

How can people express such words of sympathy in the case of a young man who “played the guitar”? 

And anyway, said others, Muslims are not allowed to call for mercy on non-Muslims. Continue Reading »

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Jul 20 2016

The New Arab Censors

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Project Syndicate

By Daoud Kuttab

AMMAN – The Internet has proved to be a powerful tool for overcoming media restrictions and censorship worldwide. But new restrictions on Web-based news media, such as those in Jordan, threaten to reverse the progress that the Internet has enabled.

For example, the tendency of Arab countries’ media to discuss issues concerning other countries more freely than those affecting their own has long impeded citizens’ ability to keep abreast of domestic affairs. Amin.org – the Arab world’s first censorship-free Web site, which I established in 1996 – addressed the problem by giving people access to information and commentary from foreign publications about domestic issues and events.

Four years later, at a time when Jordanians could access primarily government-owned radio stations, plus a few foreign stations, I launched AmmamNet.net, an Internet radio station that broadcast news and commentary from Jordan to the rest of the world. While Jordan later loosened official restrictions on audio-visual media, AmmanNet continued to deliver high-quality independent news and commentary.

Continue Reading »

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Jul 03 2016

Promoting enlightenment

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

Countering violent extremism has become the flavour of the month recently, but if a leaked document is accurate, the government has been following a strategy to counter extremism for at least two years.

The strategy of countering extremism states that it is based on three pillars: a correct interpretation of Islam, the need to promote a culture of democracy, and instituting values like tolerance, pluralism, respect for human rights and acceptance of the other.

It calls for a holistic, long-term, approach and not a quick fix.

But the 6,350-word document that begins with talk of tolerance, human rights and democracy reads more like a blueprint requiring action by the various executive branches of the government.

Any official reading this document will get the impression that many of the bullet points directed to different ministries are more like orders than words of advice.

The eight-page document, as published in a local newspaper, provides executive specifics on how to deal with extremism, including 49 articles expected from the Islamic Waqf Ministry, 17 articles that the Ministry of Social Affairs is supposed to implement, 15 items concerning the Ministry of Education,16 for the ministry in charge of media affairs, 10 items for the Ministry of Culture, 16 for the Interior Ministry, 10 for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 11 items to be worked on by the tribal affairs adviser. Continue Reading »

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Jun 23 2016

Abbas in Amman back to the routine

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo

By Daoud Kuttab

The statement coming out of the Jordan News Agency, Petra, was very ordinary. It stated that President Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation made up of PLO secretary Saeb Erekat and head of the Palestinian intelligence service Majed Faraj were hosted by King Abdullah and the Crown Prince for an iftar banquet on Wednesday, June 15.

The statement went on to say that the two leaders discussed current issues, including the Palestinian conflict and the stalled peace process.

The Petra news report may have sounded routine and ordinary, but this was no ordinary meeting.

The routine visits that Palestinian President Abbas usually makes to see the King have not been happening for nearly a year or so.

Very few people have been able to figure out what was the reason for this drought in relations.

Some have pointed out that it was due to the Palestinian insistence that Jordan submit a resolution to the UN Security Council back on December 24, 2014.

Jordan, which at the time was presiding over the Security Council, had advised against the move, but Ramallah insisted. The resolution failed to gain the needed minimum nine votes to be voted on.  Continue Reading »

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Jun 23 2016

REVEALED: CAUSE OF JORDANIAN ANGER WITH PALESTINIANS

Published by under Articles,Jordan

byline-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

The report  published in the Jordan Times, was very ordinary. It stated that President Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation made up of PLO secretary Saeb Erekat and head of the Palestinian intelligence service Majed Faraj were hosted by King Abdullah and the Crown Prince for an iftar banquet on Wednesday, June 15.
The report went on to say that the two leaders discussed current issues, including the Palestinian conflict and the stalled peace process.
The Jordan Times report may have sounded routine and ordinary, but this was no ordinary meeting.
The routine visits that Palestinian President Abbas usually makes to see the King have not been happening for nearly a year or so.
Very few people have been able to figure out what was the reason for this drought in relations.
Some have pointed out that it was due to the Palestinian insistence that Jordan submit a resolution to the UN Security Council back on December 29, 2014.
Jordan, which at the time was presiding over the Security Council, had advised against the move, but Ramallah insisted. The resolution failed to gain the needed minimum nine votes to be voted on. Continue Reading »

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Jun 05 2016

Is confederation viable for Jordan?

Jordan times logo         HuffingtonPost-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

More than two years have elapsed since the last direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

When the Israelis refused to release Palestinian prisoners from a previously agreed to list, the talks, in the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, went up in the air.

The continuation of the stalemate, coupled with the latest right-wing addition to an Israeli government already controlled by settlers, is pushing some Palestinians and Jordanians to rethink the confederation concept.

In many ways, a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation would make sense. It would be a mechanism that could end the occupation and its continued colonial settlement policy.

Confederation with Jordan would present the Israeli public with a security solution that can be guaranteed by a neighbouring country with which Israel has a peace deal and whose leader is a person Israelis trust.

Some statements, activities and decisions further fuelled this discussion. Continue Reading »

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May 12 2016

A holistic approach to press freedom

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Jordan times logo         HuffingtonPost-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

The celebration of Press Freedom Day by Jordan’s UNESCO office by means of a debate on this year’s theme of access to information revealed the gap that exists between Jordan’s public position and the reality.

For press freedom to exist and flourish, a holistic approach is needed. Such approach must also be part of a larger human rights approach.

Producing a human rights strategy and declaring that the sky is the limit for press freedom will not do if there is no serious political will in this direction.

Examples of the gap are plenty.

According to the annual report of the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists, Jordan imprisoned 10 journalists in 2015 for what they wrote and for expressing their views.

These arrests did not go unnoticed by the US State Department, which made freedom of the press and detaining journalists its number one issue in its most recently produced human rights report about Jordan.

The gap between words and reality was evident in the statements made at the debate on access to information organised by UNESCO on Sunday. Continue Reading »

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