The silent majority are no longer silent: Dr. Dala’een case


I have been observing the growth of a strong online network of voices in Jordan that champions individual freedoms and human rights. This is a positive indicator that shows a u-turn in public opinion and a stronger passion from what we used to call as “silent majority”. This “silent majority”, with the help of Facebook and social media,  seems to seize being silent anymore, they now stand firm against oppressing traditional voices that has always used the agency of religion and local traditions to hold us back.

We had a good win yesterday when Dr. Dala’een, an ex parliament member and opposition leader was pushed to issue a statement denying the misogynist comments he posted on his Facebook page a week ago attacking the new appointed Minister of Telecommunication, Majd Shawikha. On his page last week he posted a photo for her (most probably taken from her Facebook account) in a night dressing gown. He added a comment saying that in the past such profane scenes had a place in pornographic magazines for perverts to look at, but today these women are appointed to rule against us! He got a few supporter to his post and many likes, but then hours later, the tide change, and angry people started flocking to his page, attacking him for his sleazy comment, and standing up for the minister. A day later, someone started an online petition on change.org, a call for the public attorney to take actions against Dr. Dala’een. The petition gathered 2276 supporter so far. It has triggered some newspaper columnist to address the issue and stand up for Dr. Dala’een. It may also be what prompt him to issue a statement yesterday and claim that it wasn’t him who posted that on Facebook, but a hacker that took over his account.

Whether he is lying or not about the hacker is not the point, we could be nice and give him the benefit of the doubt and believe his story. The point is that Jordanians are forming an organic coalition online that will no longer stand silent for misogyny or discriminative discourse.

Few months ago, the same Jordanians stood up for Kharabeesh, a video content website, for posting a homophobic video for an immature standup comedian calling for burning gay people. The reaction was strong, fast, and organised. People showered Kharabeesh with emails and FB comments and messages, forcing them to issue and apology and delete the video carrying the hate speech from their youtube channel.

In the same line, Jordanians stood up before to both Amjad Qorsha, a religious leader, for his offensive posts against christians. And also Abdul Hadi Raji Al Majali, a popular columnist, for his hate speech against Iraqis in Jordan. Both of them seemed to be tamed these days after witnessing the hard reactions.

One could consider Dr. Dala’een retreat as a win for women and women rights. I see it more of a public statement and endorsement for individual freedoms and human rights at large. With all of the negative aspects that social media brings, this one is a positive welcomed social change that brings hope for a better future.

Happy women’s day!

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Break up because of their wedding card


I am sure most of us have heard of many hilarious stories about people breaking up few days before their wedding day for the stupidest reasons.
One of the weirdest stories I have heard is about a couple breaking up because one of the fathers, being a doctor, wanted to write “The Doctor flan flan” (his title before his name) on the wedding card while the other father didn’t approve it because people would think of him of being of a lower social status.

What we gloat about the strength of family relations that we enjoy in the Arab world compared to the western countries can be problematic at times when families extend their natural role of support into dictating the lives of their members.

It is not enough that some fathers have to approve their son’s future wife and her family, but they also are entitled to write their titles and their names on their son’s wedding invitation card building on the stupidity of a society that worships superficiality.

The couple mentioned above would have prevented such problem from arising and may be happily married by now if they dared to stand up to themselves and drop off their fathers’ names. But that would be a huge disrespect to the fathers that would make hell break loose and leave them ostracized by their whole families. It is funny because writing down their mothers’ names would be perceived as disrespect for their families as well due to the social status of women in our society.

We may be proud of the achievements of the Jordanian women so far, but sometimes it is the tiny details in a unanimous behavior that we call tradition, and in which it seems impossible to break for we assign a sacred – almost – status to, that wakes us up and states that gender equality has a long way to go.

Individual freedoms suffer the same way.