March 29, 2009

Earth Hour In Jabal Amman

Yesterday I joined the candlelit march across the Rainbow Street in Jabal Amman and I must say I thought it was really nice. People gathered up at Wild Jordan Cafe where they were showing Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", then at 8.30 the switch was turned off -really, there was a switch to turn the light off the entire street- and people walked around the street a couple of times with their candles and gathered back again at the Cafe till the lights were turned back on. The Minister of Environment Khaled Irani was also there and he walked along with the crowd.

Although the weather was pretty cold, and keeping the candles lit was almost impossible, the scene from Jabal Amman with the lights turned off and with the ambiance of the candles was beautiful. Maybe overall, it didn't provide the awareness it ought to have, but I think given it's our first year doing this, it wasn't so bad. Baby steps, I suppose.

I couldn't take any pictures (the grainy one on the right is the best thing I could take with my mobile camera), but I'll post if I receive any.

March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009: Turn Your Lights Off!

  • Where?

  • What?
Turn your lights off

  • When?
Today from 8.30 till 9.30 PM

  • Why?
To raise awareness about Global Warming, Amman is one of the participating cities in the global campaign Earth Hour. Several streets in Amman will be turning off their lights.

There will also be a candlelit march in Rainbow St. in Jabal Amman at 8.30.

The irony is that I have two electric circuits exams tomorrow. Ugh.

March 27, 2009

Stop Getting So Offended

Ah, just another boycott, this time against Alghad newspaper. I woke up today to find several invitations to a facebook group calling for the boycott of Alghad for publishing the Imad Hajjaj cartoon shown here.

[Cartoon shows Abu Mahjoob welcoming and baptizing Tony Blaire with filthy water in the baptism site, with the minister of water on the other side announcing that the contaminated waters did not affect the drinking water and were rerouted to the Jordan River.]

The cartoon spurred the catholic union to send a letter to Alghad's editor denouncing the cartoon because of the "hurtful insinuations it carries that offend not only Christians, but every good-willed citizen", also mentioning that this isn't the first time they've been offended by a Hajjaj cartoon.

This in turn caused Hajjaj to post a clarification on his website, that the caricature was not in any way a mockery of Christians or their traditions, but a sarcastic commentary of how the minister of water and irrigation announced that the water contaminated by Israel was disposed of in the Jordan river just a few days after the opening of the baptism center with Tony Blair attending the ceremony.

هذا الرسم لا يستهدف من قريب أو بعيد الإساءة للديانة المسيحية وأتباعها. ومن المهم هنا التأكيد على القضية الأساسية التي يبرزها الكاريكاتير وهو إعلان وزير المياه أن جميع المياه الملوثة قد تم التخلص منها في نهر الأردن بعد أيام من تدشين معمودية مغطس نهر الأردن بحضور السيد توني بلير. أي أن حل مشكلة التلوث كان بتلويث النهر المقدس الذي يتعمد فيه الحجاج المسيحيين من كل العالم، وهذا ما يرفضه رسام الكاريكاتير شكلا وموضوعا.

The cartoon was posted yesterday and already 3 groups have been created calling for boycotting the newspaper and Imad Hajjaj, created by people who, I'm sure, have no idea of the underlying meaning of the cartoon. The sensitivity of people when it comes to anything bordering religion is unbelievable. You do not object the fact that what you regard as a holy site is being pumped with sewage but a cartoon offends you? Seriously save your energy and outcries for bigger things, like oh I don't know, drinking sewage and radiation infested water.

[On a completely unrelated note, this is the 100th post on this blog!]

March 24, 2009

Honor Crimes: Enough Is Enough

Yes I've been trying to ignore the subject lately. Because every time I read about another case, I feel like a little part of me dies inside. We're watching innocent victims die every other day and we're doing nothing. I feel so angry at the fact that there ARE people who can be doing something about it but they're not. I've said this before and I'm going to say it again. There's no point of trying to make Jordan look like the modern country where equality prevails when women are being murdered frequently and their killers are set free. I couldn't care less if we have female police officers or plumbers as long as a father can kill his daughter for wearing makeup and be guaranteed to get away with it. The last time somebody tried to do something about it was almost 10 years ago. A decade ago. Since then nothing has been done and this disgusting charade continues. What scares me is that we've gotten so used to them to the point where no possible story could shock us. We ALL need to become outraged by this. We should never accept it as the status quo.

So here's a start. Join in Kinzi's initiative to flood the Jordan Times with emails about the subject expressing our anger. Just send in whatever feelings you have about this subject at

I've attached here Narmeen Murad's article in the Jordan Times.
A father and his two underage sons tortured and killed their 19-year-old daughter and sister because she reportedly was caught wearing makeup while out on an errand with her younger brother. Her uncle, who caught her apparently walking in an area other than the one she said she was going to, brought her back to her father and reported her “crime”.

I want to repeat this news. A young girl, a teenager, was relentlessly beaten with water hoses mercilessly and continuously by three men until she died. Initial reports indicate that the police arrested the three after she was declared dead by the doctor. The father, who led the two-hour beatings, shared his hose with his underage sons and encouraged them to join in the beating. Now this has been designated as an “honour crime”.

Welcome to Jordan in the 21st century. This case underlines the paradox of messages from this apparently modern country that has taken a leading position in the region with its progress despite its limited resources, yet still allows its human resources and future to remain hostage to archaic practices that have no relevance to the majority of society.

Parliament has rejected amendments to a law that would have banned the use of a ‘fit of fury’ clause to stop the practice of letting the perpetrators of crimes against women go free. Instead they have continued to support heartless and unnecessary murder, which is masked as a claim to have cleansed the honour of their families. This is the same Parliament that has failed women repeatedly thereby institutionalising open discrimination and the subordination of women to their male “guardians” as well as condoning violence against women.

The fact that Parliament does not fairly represent the makeup of society not only serves to maintain the integrity, and therefore supremacy, of only a certain category of people in the country politically - which is obviously the aim of the legislator - but it also allows this mentality to continue derailing all efforts to improve the legal status of women in the Kingdom. This Parliament, which was elected to serve all the people, has silenced half of the population because of their gender.

Women activists, including some of the most influential women in the country, have spoken out and advocated against what can only be described as stark legislative discrimination against women in Jordan, to no avail. The reason behind their failure is not that “society” is intrinsically against these changes, but because the cause of women has not been taken up by our male leaders who have left gender issues to women and forgot that it is the responsibility of societies as a whole to ensure that all members of that society are treated fairly and with justice.

When was the last time the prime minister made statements about improving the situation of women in Jordan? When was the last time the government intervened with Parliament and used its considerable clout to ensure the passing of laws that would change the lives of women for the better? Clearly there is no political will to improve the status of women in Jordan or even extend them the minimum protection against violence and inexplicable discrimination. As long as that political will is absent there will be no change.

An adult woman has the right to make choices in her life including personal ones. We all know this. We all know that men and women are equal in their humanity, their intelligence and their needs. We all know that it is not acceptable for any man to use force on a woman. We all know that the majority of Jordanians would not stand by idly and quietly and watch a woman being beaten to death without stepping in to stop it or even prevent it in the first place.

If we the people can’t stand to watch murder being perpetrated, how long are we going to accept that the government does exactly this? The government is watching the murder it has condoned.

Every single member of the Cabinet and every single senior official and every single journalist, judge, lawyer, activist and citizen who isn’t doing something to stop this “horror show” of crime against women, is doing exactly that: watching the long episode of torture and murder without batting an eyelid or lifting a finger. We watched this show 18 times last year. We have watched it seven times already this year. In every show a human being is robbed of their chance at life by an apathetic society.

I think we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

I really admire her courage to candidly speak about this. All I have to add is this: for all of you in a position of power, shame on you. From leadership to government to the parliament, shame on you. Do something. ANYTHING.

March 23, 2009

SuBerstar the Video

I just loved this video, it's so creative and original and perfectly describes the lives of West Ammanis! It's a spoof of Nickelback's "Rockstar" song by Jordanian artist Humam Amari. Make sure to check it out!

Also check this bloopers video, it's hilarious!

March 19, 2009

Becoming A Cynic

Usually I would spend a minimum of an hour a day reading up on newspapers online from alghad to ammon and so on. But lately I haven't been in the mood at all. Lately everytime I open the homepage of the news site, I'd just get frustrated and exit. I'm so sick of politics and I'm beginning to believe it's not the way to change anything around here. I wouldn't even know where to start. I don't know what's the way to change anything around here. I'm becoming more and more pessimistic everyday.

I didn't expect to become a cynic so soon.

March 12, 2009

Against Cyber Censorship: Why I Will Continue to Speak

Reading Naseem's post really got me thinking. People continue to ask me about why I insist on writing on subjects that are considered controversial or somewhat sensetive (i.e. anything that relates to criticizing officials and the such). Just yesterday I was warned by family members that I need to be more careful about what I write, because there can be dire concequences, and that it's just not worth it. That it's pointless.

But it's not pointless. Not for me. Everybody knows there can be dire consequences and we are all reminded of that very often. But we HAVE to say something because otherwise we're basically pretending to live in this bubble where everything is okay and it's not. There can be no progress whatsoever if people are unable to criticize whatever it is that determines their lives. How can you NOT speak out when you're not okay with how things are decided for YOU?

We are at a point where the state isn’t being tested to the extent of which it should when it comes to free speech online, and those boundaries need to be pushed. As Jordanians, we should be taking the opportunity to use the net in a manner that allows us to critically analyze our country from a political, economic, social and cultural perspective - constantly.

And that's why I will continue to speak out. I don't mean you should go on bashing people but how about we start thinking about how our lives are being run? We are lucky that we have the opportunity to speak. And we should use it.

BAJD: I Love Jordan

Skimming through my previous posts, I sometimes think my blog can give the wrong idea about Jordan for someone who doesn't know a whole lot about life here. I use this blog mostly to vent about things that drive me insane, but the truth of the matter is that I really love this country. It's where I was born. It's where I've spent my 19 years of existence. It's part of my identity.

But see for me, it's not about being a Jordanian. It's about loving this country and wanting to be a part of its progress. And people who complain about everything here without actually doing something bug me just as much as those who don't want to admit we have problems. We do, there's nothing wrong with that as long as we're willing to do something about it.

I've been thinking for a while about how I could possibly explain why I love Jordan, but I'm still not sure how I can.

It's the place I will always come back to.

It's home.

March 8, 2009

Press Freedom Hits a New Low: Journalist Referred to Court for an Online Article

““In Jordan there will be no detention of any journalist for carrying out his/her duty.”

“Detention of journalists is prohibited. I do not see a reason for detaining a journalist because he/she wrote something” or for expressing a view."

King Abdullah/November 2008

Today, Journalist Khalid Mahadeen, was referred to court by the general prosecutor, for "defamation" after criticizing the privileges given to parliament members in this ONLINE article. I may, therefore, want to choose my words carefully, but nah, the hell with it, just explain this to me. Are the King's words considered bupkis now? He says something one day, and the next day people do the EXACT OPPOSITE?? If people are scared shitless of opening their mouths when it comes to royalty, how come there's no inclination to implementing what is being said every couple of months?

Sky's the limit, eh?

Tell that to Mahadeen while he's being dragged through courts and humiliating interrogations, probably to be eventually paid off at some point.

March 7, 2009

Newspapers Appoint Women Editors for International Women's Day

Thought this was pretty interesting. Ammon is reporting that it is appointing the editor of the english Ammon as the official editor of the online news site for tomorrow, March 8th, in celeration of International Women's Day. Other major newspapers are also participating such as the Jordan Times, Alrai, Aldustour and Al Arab Al Youm.

It's good to see something actually being done, even if just for one day.

After Doubling Ministers' Salaries, PMs to Receive a JD2000 Raise

I think what surprises me the most is that I continue to be surprised at what can only be described as pure corruption. Not an ounce of decency left. Not so much as simple reservation or consideration towards the average citizen suffering to make ends meet.

About a week ago, a recommendation to raise Parliament Members salaries from JD2500 to JD4500 was approved. This took place during a meeting between Lower House Speaker Abdul Hadi Majali and Prime Minister Nader Dahabi, who not only approved it, but encouraged it as well. But such a raise, if instated, is suspected to be faced with objection from the majority of the members.

This is because Parliament members who are eligible to a pension before having become a member of the Parliament can combine both their pension and the member's salary, which definitely amounts to more than JD4500. This is applicable to about 75 members- those who reached retirement from previous jobs. With the rest feeling all left out, the government sees this raise, provided that combining the salaries is no longer allowed, as a solution to those feelings of hostility and resentment among parliament members, resulting from the "whose salary is higher" complex. This "solution" will cost an extra 1 million JDs, paid for by janabna, the taxpayers.

Getting elected into the parliament is quite the lucrative business. Not only do they receive two huge salaries, one of which encounters a raise at least twice a year (last raise was in June), but they also receive university scholarships, an exemption from duty tax, which they can sell, and a quota for Hajj. And for what? Working a maximum of 5 months a year for 4 years (mostly spent fighting with one another).

And if you haven't heard already, the ministers of the new government have doubled their salaries from JD1500 to JD3000.

We should all be mad as hell. And we shouldn't take this shit anymore.