Mar 28, 2011

A Local Wikileaks ?

We have every other franchise there is, why not Wiki leaks?

I have a proposal for fighting corruption in Jordan, it may sound funny, but it has definitely proven its worth elsewhere in the world. Wiki leaks. Corruption in Jordan is one of the most immanent dangers that face the society and always tops any reform agendas, both the political and economical ones. My proposal is a non-governmental body that can collect evidence of corruption without the disclosure of the identities of the people who provide it. This may be by means of the Internet,  a hotline and even a postal address. This can make it easier for people to come forward with substantial evidence against corrupted officials who abuse authority and dig into the taxpayers money without jeopardizing their careers by revealing their identities thus putting themselves in the face of the threats that must hold them back from coming forward with this proof in the first place.

I really think this can be done, and his worked very well for Julian Assange's real-deal. Why shouldn't it work for corruption in Jordan?

Reforming Reform

The past few days have been hectic to say the least. Name calling, stone throwing, pledging allegiance, re-pledging allegiance, and so on. Throw in a few car rallies, shooting weapons in the air and of course waving swords and you can easily be inclined to think that all hell is going to break loose! On the other hand, and to give credit where credit is due, I would like to express how proud I am with the level of intelligence and foresight I see amongst fellow reformers and non-reformers, especially the ones intelligent enough to use Twitter and to a less extent Facebook.

I am really torn in two. When I read the twitter reform page #ReformJO I have belief that a state as small and quiet as Jordan can actually do the world, or at least itself, some good. I wish I could say the same when im casually driving through the streets though, or checking some friends Facebook statuses. We live in country with a large amount of diversity, in a country with so much of closed social circle that its hard to add a random Jordanian without finding out we share a mutual friend or two. This diversity could be interpreted as a strength or as a weakness, I guess it depends on its utilization. As for the close social circle, this aspect cannot, to my mind, be anything but a plus. This makes the spread of a message easy, and the share of a thought an ease.

Now to diagnose a critical, yet not so critical, situation on the national front. We are faced today with a challenge; to keep our solidarity, figure out our national identity and then to live with it. No political reform can come without stepping up and making our voices heard, and to step up, of recent, may mean to get hit by a rouge stone or two. Our political reform needs to be clear and our agenda (I use the word in limited context) and make it clear what we want, and when we want it.

I have never been a big fan of conspiracies, and hearing of an Israeli conspiracy to turn Jordan into some kind of scape goat for a larger scheme barely intrigues me, but I am clear on one thing, and that is political reform cant do us any bad, may it be to save us from earthly plots, get us better jobs or even just make our electricity bill easier to digest. The fact of the matter is that political reform is a must. I want it, the people must want it and the king seemingly does too, so why isn't it happening?

The right of free speech is, to me, sacred (again, a word i'm not a huge fan of, for its relations to theism, but thats not of relevance right now) and by sacred I mean essential, one I would fight for, one I could say I might even die for, even though dying isn't up there on my personal list, not for now at least. And from what I've seen, we are going in the right direction, at least when it comes to freedom of speech, and thats a pointer in the right direction.

On the 25th of March the nation suffered a step backwards .. but two days later I can say that we have regained our ground and even took a step forward. Some of what I see around me keeps me from being optimistic, but in general I don't think it can stop me from saying that, as long as we have enough freethinking people as I know we do, we are heading in generally the right direction.

Mar 26, 2011

We're Barely out of the Jungle

The 24th of March started off as a normal rainy day for me at work, doing my rounds, here and there. I got off work early, as I always do on Thursdays, and thought I had enough time for one of my favorite things; a social experiment. The youth of Egypt had, and still do, surprised me, their revolution that started a short was a huge wake-up call to me, it made me think and gave me optimism. I used to think I was older than my age, seemingly I was largely mistaken, and there a lot of people who share my "mature" opinions.

My social experiment observed peaceful demonstrations that called for political reform, for a better Jordan. And above all, I can say with a high degree of certainty that the #1 Jordanian social problem, that is the Jordanians of Palestinian origins vs. Eastern Jordanians, has been effectively overlooked and as a people we can see that this can no longer stand in our way as a society.

As a child, one of my most vivid memories is sitting on my dad's shoulders as we strolled happily through Hyde Park in London on Sunday mornings. Listening to people saying that next Tuesday was the end of the world, or a Muslim standing on a rickety chair convincing his listeners how Jews own the world, with a Jew standing near by saying the exact same words about the Illuminati. I admit I didn't listen too well to any of them, as my highlight of the day began when we reached the other side of the park, where the ice-cream man was!

We like to call ourselves sophisticated, open and mature, and our government likes to think they are too, but amidst the glamor of our Queen and the hi-tech talk of our King, and after my "social experiment" turned brutal I can say; we're not sophisticated, or hi-tech .. we're barely out of the jungle ..

Mar 20, 2011

When Birthdays Turn Political

The Arab region has been in frenzy of demands for political reform for quite a while now, it is arguably turning into a new "trend". These demands are powered by outspoken youth and enforced by one the newly discovered hidden power of social networking. These demands have caused a widespread of marches, public speeches and days of "rage" every weekend in the Arab region.

Jordan has not been at the least immune to these new regional outbreaks of demands for political reform. And in the midst of this Jordanian political wake up calling for constitutional reforms headed by the demand for a constitutional monarchy which serves the rights of the people to enjoy their rights in democratic way to choose their governments.

In the very near past we have seen a wave of a fairly new social behavior, the celebration of the King's birthday, which was widely blessed by governmental officials and the King himself, which has turned into, basically, a rally of support by Jordanians expressing their loyalty to the throne. The question that surfaces here is: If the people love the King so much (celebrating his birthday more than a month after) then why are there substantial movements demanding to tie his hands with the constitution?

I think the answer to that was phrased in a very accurate manner by the former director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, Nathan Brown, in an article discussing the Jordanian political movement, by saying: It is quite easy to explain the expression of the people of Jordan towards the upkeep of the throne; as it is based on their doubts towards each other rather than their loyalty to the throne.

Jordanians are doubtful of each others intentions behind reform more than they are loyal to the throne. This issue in enforced very strongly by the complexity of the society which is made up of a mix of Jordanians with Palestinian origins and Eastern Jordanians (in reference to east of the Jordan river). It is debated which are the majority, but clearly whichever side is the majority, it is that only by a very thin margin. This complexity comes into play when it comes to demands for political reform. Political parties in the country have always been labeled to be on either side of this complexity.

These birthday celebrations have been politicized and used to carry different internal messages. They carry a message to reform seekers that the government might, and I say might, be reformed if u try hard enough, as for the King, well it's not going to be that easy!

PS: To whom it may concern: Children should be in school getting education, not marching to make statements. If you have to make statements find a way that doesn't involve children, our educational system is bad enough already ..

Mar 6, 2011

The Fall of Lord Voldermort

The freedom of speech is one of the oldest forms of human rights, yet it is both directly and indirectly the most oppressed right of all. Leaders have never wanted their faithful to just "speak their minds". The reason behind this is not very hard to see. The key to successful dictatorships, observe "successful" as a relative term here, throughout history has always been their ability to keep people living under a very delicate film of fear, aided by the number one weapon which is limiting their freedom of speech. This psychological  barrier is the one and only barrier that keeps people in line, making the trimming process of those who step out of the line much easier. 

This exact practice can be observed clearly in Jordan. The Jordanian secret police, commonly known as "Al-Mukhabarat" have always been a hanging mouth-shutter in front of the average citizen, whenever anything governmental comes up in the normal flow of speech. I have, on too many occasions actually, had friends have a quick glance over their shoulders whenever the word "King" is mentioned. Maybe its just a kindly gesture or habit, or maybe it is a lifetime build up of fear that lives inside each and every one of us. For those who have read Harry Potter, or even seen the movies, the term Lord Voldermort who is known to many wizards as "he who must not be named" may bring the picture funnily closer to their minds.

Recent events in the Arab world are nothing more than the people gaining the ability to speak Lord Voldermort's name in public, maybe taking it a step further asking for "he who must not be named" to not be named .. at all!