Archive for the 'Jordan' Category

Dec 29 2014

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

Published by under Articles,Jordan


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


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


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


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


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


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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Feb 20 2014

Jordanian Diplomacy and Public Protests Produces Results in Protecting Al Aqsa

Published by under Articles,Jordan


Following appeared in the Jordan Times

By Daoud Kuttab

Jordan succeeded this week to force the Israeli Knesset to cancel a discussion planned for Tuesday regarding Al Aqsa Mosque.

The public debate was initiated by the deputy speaker of the Israeli legislature, Moshe Feiglen, and was intended to focus on the issue of sovereignty over the third holiest place in Islam.

Rightwing Israelis want to remove any non-Israeli control over the mosque area.

Al Haram Al Sharif, built in the seventh century, is a walled area that spans 144 dunums and includes two mosques (the silver-domed Al Aqsa Mosque and the gold-covered Dome of the Rock), as well as court areas, an Islamic museum, a Sharia Islamic court and other facilities.

The cancellation of the Israeli Knesset session followed what appeared to be a well-orchestrated public, private and governmental approach.

Jordan’s Parliament got the ball rolling initially, with a strong statement by its Palestine committee threatening to cancel the Israeli-Jordan treaty if the status of the revered Islamic site is changed.

Jordan’s treaty with Israel clearly specifies the Hashemite Kingdom’s unique role in protecting the status of holy shrines in Jerusalem. Furthermore, a Palestinian-Jordanian agreement that recognises Palestinian sovereignty over occupied Jerusalem accepts the role of the Hashemites as guardians of Islamic and Christian holy places in Jerusalem. Continue Reading »

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Feb 16 2014

Kerry Peace Plan Shakes up Jordanian-Palestinian Relations


By Daoud Kuttab

The seriousness of the U.S.-initiated framework for a possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem appears to have shaken dormant relations in the region, including in Jordan.

The Palestinian-Jordanian relationship, which is experiencing its highest degree of cooperation and mutual trust, is being put to the test.

The challenges facing this important relationship stem from identity issues that have plagued Jordan for decades but which have been pushed under the rug.

Jordanian politicians, pundits, journalists and even government officials are expressing different degrees of concern and worry regarding the aftermath of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plan, even though information about the plan is very sketchy.

The potential of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has resurrected badly needed discussion about political reform, which was delayed until the resolution of the Palestinian cause.

The refugee issue is perhaps the most important part of this discussion. Two million registered refugees in Jordan are the biggest single group of Palestinian refugees in the world. Their case is even more complicated by the fact that they are also full Jordanian citizens, though not equitably represented in Parliament as a result of large-scale gerrymandering. Continue Reading »

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