Policemen in Jordan beating a helpless man: This is NOT acceptable

Update: I got this on Twitter:

silentempire @TheArabObserver this was in 2007, according to this post http://www.jordanzad.com/jordan/news/117/ARTICLE/22579/2009-09-04.html

The article says that the spokesman of the Public Security Department Major Mohammad Khatib pointed out that this video is an old one and has been taken on 2007 in an incident where the man being beaten up has provoked the policemen in the video! And that the security department makes sure to monitor policemen so not to break the law.

I, personally, don’t think this is enough. I want names of those policemen to be published and for us to know how they were punished exactly, and what measurment has the security department take in order to prevent such events to occur again.

I really can’t believe that this happened in Jordan! Policemen CANT be allowed to act this way. Those bunch of policemen should be punished for what they did.

Move this forward and raise your voice so that authorities take actions in this matter.


Jordan’s Tribal Heritage Shouldn’t Justify Death Sentence

Last week Batir Wardam, a Jordanian famous writer, blogger and human rights activist, published a post on his blog about death sentence in Jordan. What he said mainly is that he is a strong supporter for the international declaration of human rights and the associated covenants with it except for one thing he doesn’t completely agree with, which is the call to abolish death sentence absolutely.

Batir goes on in his article and try to justify his stand by pointing out Jordan’s specific cultural heritage of tribal laws where tribes are known of taking justice by their hands and kill the murderer – or any member of his family – in order to take revenge. He claims that if the law can give the victim its right by sentencing the murderer to death, then tribes don’t have to enforce their own version of justice.

I, personally, have a deep respect for Batir, and I do usually agree with most of his ideas and stands, but I found myself completely against the notion that he presents. I didn’t intend to write about this subject back when I read his post, but today I was reading July’s issues of Living Well magazine which features a comprehensive report addressing death sentence in Jordan, and was surprised to read that the same notion has been talked out by a Jordanian famous lawyer.

It seems that there is some pushing towards abolishing death sentence in Jordan (no death sentence applied since 2006), but it also seems that there is some pushing against it. Building a case on the particularity of the local social structure and heritage is a quite common approach that has historically been used in different occasions to fight the pressures of the global community to push human rights amendments in the country.

While it is true that tribes tend to take revenge, I don’t think that it justifies keeping the death sentence penalty. You don’t fix a mistake with another one. If we have a problem with our social heritage then we should come up with laws that enforce fixing the problem instead of building on it and violate human rights recommendations. If a member of a family murdered someone in retaliation of a murdered happened in his family, then an investigation should take place in order to find out who in his family supported and helped him to take his revenge. In the eyes of the law, associates and supporters of a crime are criminals as well and should be punished. That is what should be enforced in order to stop tribes from applying the law by their hands instead of supporting death sentence with all what it entails of violations of human rights recommendations.

Why Queer is not good enough to define Arab homosexuals?

The Arabic culture is still at a stage of evolution where it has little to no tolerance to human differences. Whatever is different, and whatever defies the norms is rejected and looked down upon. That explains the bad connotations associated to the word “shaz” which is a direct translation of the word queer.

“Shozooz” in the Arabic language is a term that is used to label anything that is different than normal; it is also used to mean that something is odd or weird which also holds bad connotations in the Arabic perception.

While the homosexual community in the west has been able to reclaim the word ‘queer’ – which is now being used with pride by some of the community’s younger members to describe themselves – it only happened because their culture was mature enough to embrace and celebrate people’s differences. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the Arabic culture, and thus, Arab homosexuals face a dilemma of terms and labels in their battle towards gaining acceptance from their local societies. “What applies to the west doesn’t necessary applies to us” a sentence that many Arab gay activists believe in.

That is true in a way especially now that homosexuality itself is widely perceived in the Arab world as an imported construct that is against the general consensus of moral conduct. The issue here in the Arabic area is that people still insist on defining homosexuality by sexual behavior instead of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is a recent scientific discovery due to scientific advancements in psychology, human brain and behavior. It hasn’t picked up in the Arabic area due to different reasons; first because it is a new concept, second because it is a western invention that strongly challenges Arabic sexual moral values, third because only few Arabs actually read books and forth because it contradicts with what most people believe in of Islamic teachings.

In reality, same sex attraction and not behavior is what connect this wide pool of people. They self-identify as homosexuals rather than queer and thus are demanding to be called “Methlyeen” rather than “Shazeen”. While being queer – odd or weird – doesn’t necessary mean a bad thing, it is actually bad in the current perception of the Arabic mind, and thus it is kind of a word that offends most Arab homosexuals.

3 weeks ago, I was watching an episode of Desperate Housewives – season 4 -; they had this brilliant conclusion at the end of the episode related to labels and the way we – human beings – judge each other. They had a priest who used his power to tarnish the reputation of a woman and call her prostitute because she rejected his sexual advancements, they had a creepy child who was bitter and angry and caused many troubles to her family, they had a female drug dealer who rejected strongly marital disloyalty, and they had a man who was perceived as a villain for a horrible past mistake and who showed a heroic act of standing up for his wife.

They ended the show with a line where they asked: Can a priest be evil? Are children always innocent? Can a drug dealer be a good person? And can a villain be a hero? In the same line, queers can be good people, but until our societies become mature enough to see behind labels, homosexuals will keep on demanding to be called “Methleyeen”. Unfortunately we still literally apply the Arabic proverb “an envelope is known through its title” and judge people based on the label they carry.

Jordan with no death sentence?

There seems to be some efforts towards abolishing death sentence in Jordan. A small news was published today in al ra’ee newspaper about a session held about the matter between human rights activites, some officials and law people. In addition to that, there has been a reportage on Al Arabieh news channel tonight about the state of prisons in Jordan and death sentence.

In the reportage they mentioned that among the 8000 prisoner in Jordan, there is only around 250 woman. They then focused on women prisoners and interviewed some who are sentenced to death along with a femal offical from the prison who highlighted that most women who are charged of murder, have murdered their own husbands. One of the prisoners said that she stabbed her husband out of rage because he used to torture her. I felt that this is somehow a way to draw people’s compassion towards such cases, and as the news host said: this matter is left in the hands of the government and the parliament.

I am personally against death sentence, no matter how horrible of an act one have done. It is a violation of the rights of human to live. Let’s hope that these efforts are going in the right direction.

Stop Crimes Against Women

Following is the letter I sent to different Jordanian media outlets pleeding for them to take a stand againt honor cirmes.

In reference to the latest hate crime reported on Jordan times magazine for a young Jordanian woman who have been beated to death by her father, brother and her unclie for wearing makeup and designated as an “honour crime”, I would like
to call all of you to stand up to such barbarian inherited law that doesn’t fit with the modern and civilised stucture of Jordan’s face.

It is time for our local media, whether it is printed or online, to stand up to their responsibilities towards Jordanian citizens. It is time for you all to raise up your voices and lobby to abolish such retarded law. We awe it to ourselves, to our mothers, to our daughters and to our wives, we ought to provide them with
dignity, equality, and safety. No Jordanian woman should fear the prosecution of a male relative. No man should get away with murder under the name of honor.

Jordan is calling you to help cleaning her face from those
dishonored crimes. We won’t tolerate any other murder that we know is coming. We carry a huge shame for what happens in this country, and we ask you all to act, to stop this insanity.

Read the story here: http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=15267

Best Regards,
The Observer

Child Custody Law

For years, my father’s cousin has been frightened about losing her daughter. She didn’t dare to ask for divorce eventhough she and her husband got seperated two years after their wedding. Her worst nightmare arises when she heard that he was in a relationship with a Muslim women and was about to change his religion. Her feared didn’t stem out of concern about his religious status, but more about her custody of her daughter that would drop immediatly if her husband converted.

Yesterday, she was talking about Queen Rania’s youtube channel. She said that Queen Rania is addressing the world, telling them how good we are at protecting our minorities and treating our women. Then she proceeded on questioning women rights in Jordan under a law that strips a woman her children just because her husband fall in love with another woman of a different religion. She is determined to sent a letter to the Queen about this matter.

I know that my Christian neighbour who is married to a Muslim went to the court and converted to Islam when she knew that her husband has married another woman on her. She was frightened of losing the custody of her two son, and so she took some protective measrument including giving away her own religion.

I wonder how much our women rights organizations are aware of such laws and how hard are they working on changing it.