Archive for the 'Jordan' Category

May 05 2015

Why the Muslim Brotherhood Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

AMMAN — In the end they withdrew their call for a demonstration. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan wereplanning to celebrate their 70th anniversary on Friday, in spite of the Jordanian government’s public refusal to allow the event to take place. The huge pressure that the government felt shows that the Muslim Brotherhood continues to be a powerful force.

In Palestine, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliate, Hamas, won student council elections at Bir Zeit University. Student elections there are often seen as a signal of general public sentiment. And in Yemen, Egypt and Libya, support for the Brotherhood has not gone away, despite very strong repressive and violent action against them by the authorities.

Jordan’s leading opposition figure Laith Shbeilat posted an open letter to King Abdullah on his Facebook account, calling on him to allow the Brotherhood to hold their celebrations and reminding him of earlier cases in which repressive attempts against the Muslim Brotherhood actually made them more popular.

Many arguments have been circulated to justify repressive acts against the Muslim Brotherhood. In Egypt, they are accused of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing — a terrorist group masquerading as a peaceful movement. In Palestine and Libya, they are criticized as an undemocratic force that merely exploits democratic elections to gain power whilst ignoring all other democratic principles. Once in government, the Brotherhood is accused of acting dictatorially and of hanging on to power even after they have outstayed their welcome.

In Jordan, a conflict has evolved over the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. A split within the movement has provided the government with a chance to take sides, even though the prime minister insisted in Parliament that thegovernment does not take sides in this internal conflict. Continue Reading »

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Mar 13 2015

Legislative Challenges to the Audiovisual Media in Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

Jordan’s Parliament is expected to discuss a new audiovisual law. The law fulfills the constitutional need of updating all temporary laws.

The current audiovisual law, issued in 2002, was seen as ushering in an end to government monopoly of airwaves. Tens of private radio and TV stations have since been licensed, but the sector has witnessed many distortions that media freedom activists hope will be corrected in the new law.

Zakaria Al Sheikh, the head of the parliamentary guidance committee, has been holding consultations with media owners and held a number of workshops and a two-day retreat in Aqaba in the hope of reaching consensus among members of his committee and other relevant groups, including the government. What emerged from these behind-the-scenes activities is a law that reportedly will abandon the clause which gives the Cabinet full power to license radio and TV stations or reject applications without giving a reason for the rejection.

Yet, this is not a way to go if the country wishes to attract investment. The new law will also end the practice of allowing business companies that work with government agencies not to pay license fees. Neither will it allow licensed broadcasters to get a waiver for the fees and advertise at the same time, which has been the case with a number of government-owned stations (army, police, Amman municipality). While this move is welcome as it attempts to create a level playing field, it fails to give a serious push to community media. Continue Reading »

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Dec 29 2014

Why I Am Opposed to the Carrying Out of Capital Punishment in Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

I am in principle opposed to the capital punishment. I am even more opposed to Jordan carrying out this inhuman punishment for a number of reasons.

One of the main reasons people are opposed to capital punishment is the fact that the chance of miscarriage of justice is high.

Throughout history, there are abundant cases of individuals who were executed, only to be proved innocent later.

Through DNA testing, one could see that even some of the world’s most careful judiciaries made mistakes that led to this irreversible punishment.

In Jordan, the judiciary is well respected by the public, but it could still be mistaken. In fact, weeks ago, a scandal led to the early retirement of five senior judges. The fact that judges were part of the scandal points to the potential of a grave miscarriage of justice.

A one percent chance that a wrong judgement can end someone’s life should be reason enough to refrain from carrying out this cruel punishment.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the capital punishment, especially in a region like Jordan, is the mistaken understanding that it will work as a deterrent and lower crime rates. There is no scientific proof that this is the case.

Studies show that motives for crime are many and those who carry out acts that result in a capital punishment verdict are bound to continue to act in the same manner, regardless of the penalty. Continue Reading »

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Dec 12 2014

Men and Women Call on Jordan’s MP Hind Fayez to Stand Tall

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

On the first of December 1955 (the year I was born), a 42-year-old African-American woman, Rosa Parks, made a defiant gesture by refusing to give up her bus seat despite a call by the white bus driver to stand.

The residents of Montgomery, Alabama responded to Parks’ defiance by totally boycotting the discriminatory bus company until it changed its policy.

Fifty-nine years later, almost to the day, a deputy in the Jordanian parliament, Yihya Saud “ordered” defiant MP Hind Fayez to sit down. The call: “Uqudi ya Hind” (sit down Hind) was captured on video and went viral on YouTube as Jordanians and others circulated the footage. Not only did Saud bark out this order, but he also cursed those who introduced the quota system which allowed women to reach Parliament.

No doubt the words that Saud addressed to his colleague are not new to most women who are used to men ordering them around, especially if they have the guts to stand up for what they believe.

Women MPs (not the men) attempted to stand up for their female colleague in the next Lower House session and sat in the foyer rather than their allotted seats. But the boycott didn’t last long and they were convinced to return to the chamber without Saud having apologized.

Women, who make up half the population, are represented by 18 out of the 150 Lower House members — a mere 12 percent. Due to this low level of female representation, Jordan rank is 115 out of 155 parliaments. Continue Reading »

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Jul 03 2014

World Cup and the digital switchover

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Following appeared in the Jordan Times Newspaper

If all goes as planned, this could be the last World Cup that the general public in most Arab countries, including Jordan and Palestine, will not be able to watch for free.

According to FIFA laws and regulations, TV broadcasting of the game should not be monopolised by any country, but the Arab region is the exception to the rule.

The near absence of any Jordanians terrestrial TV broadcasting has played into the hands of the oil-rich Gulf countries that paid exorbitant licence fees for the satellite broadcast of this season’s World Cup (as well as the last).

As reportedly 96 per cent of Jordanians watch satellite stations, a warped television culture has developed.

Hundreds (some say thousands) of stations are available free to air in the Arab region, despite the fact that most of them are broadcasting what amounts to inferior programming.

Whether a country or a movement, to exist politically in the Arab world one has to be on satellite.

The little box in the corner of the TV screen bearing one’s name or logo has become the sign of political existence, irrespective of the fact that someone watches that station or not.

All this could change in the next year or so if the planned switchover to terrestrial digital broadcasting is implemented properly.

Digital broadcasting not only provides regulators with tens of newly available stations (both nationwide and local) at higher quality and lower upload costs, it also gives end users many benefits, including recording, replaying and listening to broadcasts in different languages or subtitles for those with difficulty hearing. Continue Reading »

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May 28 2014

Pope’s Visit: A Resounding Success

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

At all levels, the visit of Pope Francis to Jordan and Palestine was a huge success.

For about 26 hours, everything was implemented as planned. And the few unplanned moments worked out quite well, leaving indelible memories and images.

The Pope’s visit was billed as pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the slogan chosen by the Vatican was unity, in reference to the historic meeting planned with the head of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem.

Fifty years after a similar trip was made by Pope Paul VI, the trip was aimed at rekindling the spirit of unity among Christians of different denominations, as well as an interfaith effort.

Pope Francis was accompanied by Muslim and Jewish religious leaders (one each) from his days in Argentina; the spirit of unity was evident in various meetings, speeches and homilies.

But the highlight of the entire trip was not planned, rehearsed or even expected.

The Pope had decided not to cross any checkpoints to enter the UN-declared non-member state of Palestine and so the idea of an image of the Pope interacting with the occupation or seeing the wall was thought to have been bypassed by the decision to visit Palestine, flying a Jordanian military helicopter straight to Palestine.

As he was driving around Bethlehem in his open car, the Pontiff passed by the entrance of the Aida refugee camp and noticed the separation wall. It is hard for anyone not to take notice of the 10-metre-high wall (which the media insist on calling a separation barrier) and it is even harder for the Jesuit Pope who has empathy for the weak and oppressed not to stop. Continue Reading »

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May 06 2014

Clerics, scholars debate action on Jerusalem

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The dangers facing Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque finally appear to have elicited serious Arab reactions. The guests and comments of the organizers of a recent conference held in the Jordanian capital of Amman reflect a newfound seriousness.

“The Road to Jerusalem” — held April 28-30 and organized by the World Islamic Sciences and Education University and Jordan’s Palestine parliamentary committee — tackled some hard issues never before confronted. The seriousness of the discussion was best conveyed when Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad, King Abdullah’s right-hand man on religious issues (including Jerusalem), convened a private meeting, without the press in attendance, with delegates from Palestine and the Arab world.

Leaks from that meeting indicate that Ghazi described the seriousness of the situation, in particular in regard to the Hashemite pledge to protect and defend the Haram al-Sharif, the site of Al-Aqsa, and Jerusalem in general. Jordan’s unique role in Jerusalem is codified in Article 9 of the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty and in a special Jordanian-Palestinian agreement signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah in March 2013. Continue Reading »

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Mar 19 2014

Israeli killing of judge at border provokes backlash in Jordan

Published by under Articles,Jordan

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The killing of Raed Zeiter, a Palestinian-Jordanian judge, at the entry to the Israeli-controlled side of the King Hussein Bridge on March 10 has resulted in an explosion of anger in the Hashemite kingdom. Protests and marches took place late that night near the Israeli Embassy in Amman. The following day, a vigil at Amman’s Justice Palace saw thousands of lawyers and judges unite in denouncing the killing. Students also protested at various universities, but perhaps the strongest voices were raised at the March 11 afternoon session of the Jordanian parliament, where legislators demanded in unison that the government expel the Israeli ambassador and recall Jordan’s envoy to Tel Aviv. Many even went so far as to call for scrapping the Israeli-Jordanian peace agreement. Others sought clemency for Ahmad Daqamseh, the Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli girls on the Jordan’s side of the northern crossing point in March 1997 and has served more than half of his 25-year sentence.

The killing took place just two weeks after Amnesty International produced a report detailing how “trigger-happy” Israeli soldiers often abuse their firepower. The shooting of Judge Zeiter very much fits the profile of the way well-armed Israeli soldiers conduct themselves, likely due to the impunity provided by the Israeli establishment. The study found that in most cases, Israeli soldiers are not held accountable for premeditated killings. Amnesty judged these premeditated wanton killings — in which the soldiers’ lives are not in danger — to be war crimes. Continue Reading »

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Mar 13 2014

Israeli Occupier-occupied Paradigm Must End

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By Daoud Kuttab

For 46 years the bridge connecting the West Bank with Jordan has been a source of hardships, humiliations and extremely long and unnecessary delays, not to mention cumbersome and exaggerated body and baggage searches. This nightmare has to end.

What happened on Monday morning March 10th is a symptom of the occupation versus occupied paradigm that must come to an end. A 38-year-old Jordanian father of two and a sitting judge in Amman’s Court of First Instance, attempted to travel to Nablus like many Palestinians and Jordanians of Palestinian origin. His altercation with Israeli soldiers that ended with his death must be a warning flag that this injustice and humiliation cannot continue.

Anyone who crosses the King Hussein Bridge knows very well how the Israelis have for decades forged a shameful occupier-occupied relationship with the power of their guns. The Oscar-winning film Twelve Years a Slave, perfectly illustrates the way that the oppressed absorb all kinds of humiliation simply in order to survive as they wait for salvation.

Raed Zuaiter, the Jordanian judge, like any other human being, apparently walked into this mess without the added shield of years of humiliation and he couldn’t accept it. For their part, the Israeli soldiers, brainwashed to suspect every passenger as a potential “terrorist”, viewed the rebellion against accepting the occupier-occupied paradigm as enough proof that the rebellious person must be a terrorist. As they say, the rest is history.

The Israeli spin machine quickly went into action. The oft-repeated defense was that Zuaiter went for the soldier’s gun. Later it was adjusted that he went for his throat, attempting to strangle him. The “terrorist” label also required some audio. So again the spin machine fabricated that the judge yelled Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar before lunging for the soldier’s gun (or throat), thus confirming that he was a terrorist. Continue Reading »

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Feb 27 2014

Community radio gets a boost in Jordan

Following appeared in the Jordan Times

By Daoud Kuttab

Community media received a major boost in Jordan this week with the launch of the third Aswatona conference at the Dead Sea.

More than 100 community radio activists gathered at the lowest spot on Earth to talk about the challenges of producing, broadcasting and sustaining community owned media, especially radio.

Community radio activists from areas not under the control of the Syrian regime were the stars of the event organised by a local Jordanian NGO, Community Media Network, and the UK-based Community Media Solutions in association with Jordan’s Audio Visual Commission and the World Association of Community Broadcasters.

Broadcasting radio in the Middle East and North Africa is a huge challenge. The post-colonial region witnessed many revolts and military coups that always included taking over national radio.

New powers were careful not to allow others to own radio stations so as not to have them do what they did when they took power. Continue Reading »

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