Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stereotyping In Jordan

By Hassan A. Barari
For Jordan to go through the democratic reform transition safely and with great benefits for all, there is need to focus on the issues at hand. Here, I refer to the issue of reform, particularly, after it receives the momentum needed.
A few months ago, there were some who made the case that the regime was part of the problem in Jordan. Some even stressed that the regime was buying time and business would be back as usual once the storm of the Arab Spring settles. They are all proven wrong!
Constitutional amendments are on their way to be endorsed and ratified by Parliament, thus paving the way for enacting a new, better electoral law.
Unfortunately, some see only the half empty glass. It is troubling to see that some think they have the monopoly on truth. During one of his lectures, Prince Hassan wisely criticised this destructive mindset.
Reform in Jordan, or anywhere else, could not be tailored to suit one person or one idea.
Most damaging to reform is to have populist grandstanding. For instance, in a highly provocative article, one columnist makes a link between galabiya (the traditional tribal dress) and backwardness. Such stereotyping columnists are dangerous.
Another journalist has been persistently describing Jordanians as tribal. This characterisation is not only wrong, it is also perilous and could create a population dichotomy based on demography.
A Jordanian, according to this false logic, is either a tribal man who is backward or a city dweller (mainly of Palestinian origin) who is enlightened.
Such characterisation can only be found in Zionist literature. The Palestinian, in the Zionist literature, is backward and a crook that should be controlled and sometimes eliminated. The Zionists projected the Palestinians in such a way so as to justify ethnic cleansing. While I understand, though disagree with, the Zionists exclusive mindset, I find it hard to understand why some among us resort to the Zionist method of demonising the other.
This demonisation of half of the population is covered in the language about reform, human rights and democracy. Who is against that? Hardly any in Jordan.
Then there are those who do not seem to accept that Jordanians, regardless of their origin, are all citizens and should be dealt with accordingly. Therefore, projecting Jordanians of Palestinian origin as nothing but refugees is equally dangerous.
Fortunately, those few from either demographic divide do not represent the vast majority of Jordanians who value national unity. If they continue their rant unchecked, they could only impede the process of reform that is so vital for the stability and prosperity of Jordan.
George Orwell once said that “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”. I believe that there is nothing more accurate than this statement.
This commentary was published in The Jordan Times on 30/08/2011

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