A Sad Day For Online Free Speech In Jordan

I don’t know anymore. I would say it’s a sad day, but I can’t remember one that wasn’t. Long story short, the Jordanian government is going on, what can best be described as, an anti-online free speech jihad. A decision has been made to monitor websites (most likely including the rising popularity of blogs) and to keep them in check with the country’s notorious press and publication laws. This is the legacy that the Prime Minister Bakhit will be leaving behind.

Khalaf is right. To think, this particular government went from having its opening song be “let freedom ring” to a swan song that begs for no encore to follow.

In the weeks that followed the Amman bombings there was this whole new and promising environment, most likely as a response to the fear of social discontent following such a tragedy. Ironically, not only have those promises of new freedoms been broken, but the situation has actually worsened. See, the government firmly believes that by silencing people, everyone will be happy. It’s about the same as clamping down on a pressure cooker to silence the steam whistle that is just going berserk.

So what do we do?

One idea is to create a website that monitors the government’s actions online. Monitoring the monitors.

Big Brother Watches?

Little Brother Watches Back.

[hat tip: maha]

40 comments
serene
serene

I think its a great idea Naseem! a simple documentation of madness! just get a hacker to set up the site akh!

Duried
Duried

This is outrageous! Next thing you know it, what happened in Egypt will happen here with bloggers being arrested for sharing their views and letting people know what is actually happening in the country. The reason we raise our voice and give our opinions is to try to make a difference, to try to be a catalyst for positive and constructive change. We don't criticize for the sake of it, we don't attack the government because we want to be rebels; we do so in the name of free speech and in order to make people know, understand and act. If the main stream media is so busy trying to please the government, who will stand up and show the corruption, inequality, poverty and backward mindness that we are all experiencing. Silent, we shall not be!

fightforyourmind
fightforyourmind

It seems surprising that people are surprised by this event. The concept of freedom lies in Hollywood movies to give people a false hope because the reality we are living in is far from freedom. This country (Jordan) will follow the global power play that seeks to control humanity and guide the people towards whatever they are told to do. George Orwell's 1984 world is here, but the majority are not seeing it! You are not free, you'd like to believe it though. There is another freedom, and that is what you can fight for in your mind, body and soul. It is very hard, but it still is a reality within the smoke screen reality we are bombarded with daily. Fight for your mind

hello
hello

hello Kinzi , I sent you an email

kinzi
kinzi

Hello, I know of a family who needs to find a home for a sweet, friendly male golden lab. Email me at hope4wounded@gmail.com if you are really serious, and I'll get a phone number. Or, check the Animal Welfare Society at Ghamadan Park.

hello
hello

I know im funny , but seriously can anyone help me out?

alurdunialhurr
alurdunialhurr

لقد حان الوقت بي أن نصرخ بصوت واحد، فل الاتحاد قوه امام حكومه ليس عندها الثقه ولا الشرعيه ولا حتي نقطه من المصداقيه،أذا كان عناضمير وشرف يجب علينا ان نقف وقفه أنسانيه ضد مشريعهم الهامله والمشبوها،لايمكن أن نسمح لهم بسحب حقنا وشطبو والذي هواحقنا الطبيعي والقانوني ،لقد وللي عصر الدكتاتوريه والبلطجه والضحك علي اللحه،أنتم تستحقوا حكومه تمثل كل انسان عاش وعايش علي أرض هذا الوطن،لازم يشكرو ربهم علي أناس مثلنا بفكرو ليلا ونهارا بي أبحار هذا الوطن الي الشوطئ الائمنه،الله يخزيهم علي المشاكل ألي وقعونا فيها علي مر السنين....

Markus
Markus

Why are people so worried? I'd say, except for a handful of bloggers, the Jordanian blogsphere is hardly a challenging forum for the government! on the contrary , the Jordanian blogsphere is, basically, a feel-good, get-together for the elite, pro-government, slogan-toting community. The miniscule minority that challenge and criticize the "red lines" are already under a watchful eye. Tulip has mentioned earlier how the main Jordanian aggregator was forced to kick those rouge elements out to avoid trouble, clearly someone high up didnt like the exposure these rebels got on a Jordnain aggregator and did something about it, The Blogsphere back then chose to fall in line, wether due to fear or collusion witht he government,that was the day that this bill has passed, people chose to stay silent, and today the fruits of this action are ready and ripe for the picking.Those rebels are the ones that need to worry about the new bill and the commentors on the blogs, not the rest who have a governmental stamp of approval. A little breathing room is allowed here and there, some pressure valves,and some legitimate cases where the government can score some popularity points, but non of the critical and vital cases are ever approached. One of the comments above clearly even welcomes censorship. It is truly disheartening to see how blindly loyal our youth has become to the proper line drawn for them by big brother.

Markus
Markus

how about monitoring corruption , big theives in high places?

The Observer
The Observer

onzlo, How about an online demonstration? I think that is an excellent idea! I am IN! Nass, can you create a template for us? Lets pick up a day and publish it all!

laith
laith

I am suggesting that the money would be paid for the monitoring employees to be paid to poor people in Jordan Mr prime minister!!!, by the way what about monitoring the water and the shawerma before monitoring people my friend thats a better idea.

mo
mo

i like how ppl are surprised by this

ДншдЬ
ДншдЬ

LOOOOL @ hello... Government loves you man. maybe after 2 years people would start to share there opinions by distributing handbills to the doors at night.

Mazz
Mazz

total rubbish.

onzlo
onzlo

How about an online demonstration, perhaps someone can draw up a protest letter/slogan type thingy. And all the Jordanian (and even perhaps Arab/International) bloggers, websites, online news sources etc... Can post them on the same day as a protest?

hello
hello

Hello , I know this is completely off-subject so sorry but does any know where I can buy a good dog in Amman? Thank you

Moey
Moey

Let them monitor nas, fe ktheer garab sayer. people rebellious w mesh 3aref esh, sorry to disappoint you all.. I like being monitored at least el kelmeh btosal

imad
imad

This decision, along with sabotaging ATV, is in preparation for the government's planned "management" of the parliamentary elections. All un-tamable outlets capable of scrutinizing government action are being taken care of.

Lina
Lina

I'm pretty sure the main concern is not really bloggers themselves, but people who comment, and I wonder how they're going to censor and monitor this!! With bloggers and online media, it's only common knowledge that the General Intelligence Directorate has been monitoring the Jordanian blogosphere for at least two years now!! Now it's just becoming more "public" with the Press and Publication Department assuming part of the authority. What we've been seeing lately is lots of comments, not just on blogs but on those online news sources like Ammon News, where commentors cross what has been usually deemed "red lines". Anyways, I agree with those who said; let's wait and see how they will actually manage to catch up and how exactly they intend to carry out this new form of censorship! One concern is that the Jordanian blogosphere has long been plagued with high levels of self-censorship, any more than that and we might be better off not writing in the first place!

Tulip
Tulip

Husams, My comment was about the blogsphere stand back then not observer personal stand. Back the few bloggers refused the removal and more were against the removal generally but okay with it in those cases and the majority was okay with it(some called it a democratic action); i simply dont believe that this a crowd that represents defending freedom of speech like what the observer said.

Husams
Husams

To Tulip, if my memory didn’t betray me, I remember The Observer as one of the few bloggers who stand without hesitation defending freedom of speech against the censorship of a VIVA’s magazine article, and against removing the two political bloggers -I forgot their names- from the Jordan’s blogs aggregator, and against removing the gay blogger from Qwaider planet. Not only should the government allow more the true freedom of speech but sadly also our public, both they think freedom of speech is your right to speak as long as you don’t disagree with their believes.

Tulip
Tulip

LOL @ The observer ... a very strong blogsphere thats ready to defend freedom of speech does not do what took place earlier this year when one blogger was removed from the pervious aggergator because of its anti-governmental posts!! Majority of those i am with freedom of speech gang supported that removal and many of them are among the commenters here !! Give us a break, hypociracy is somethign iam personally fed up with .. Nasim, My personal worry goes mainly to Hajjaj un-published cartoons; all those strong contervirsal cartoons he posted on mahjoob.com and not in newspapers ethier because they were not allowed to be published or he saw they are too much to published are under the law now (oh the thoughts i have ).. i guess now we'll go back to secretly circulating strong cartoons through hidden groups .. hushhh

The Observer
The Observer

Be prepared guys for a big battle when one of us gets suspended or jailed for his blog opinion. I am sure that if our government is smart enough, they wouldn't dare mess with us. We have a very strong blogsphere, and we are ready to defend our freedom of speech.

PROTECT YOURSELVS
PROTECT YOURSELVS

ATTENTION JORDANIAN BLOGGERS. YOUR BEST PROTECTION AGAINST REPRESSION IS TO MOVE YOUR BLOG TO GOOGLE BLOGS. IT'S HTTPS, MEANING IT'S ENCRYPTED AND SECURE. ANYTHING ELSE IS OPEN TO SNIFFING AND EAVESDROPPING BY THE DARK FORCES.

Pheras Hilal
Pheras Hilal

Naseem, this just shows you how lazy our current government is. Besides the fact that this legislation takes us back to square one. (Some journalists started blogs to escape being censored in traditional media). Ye3ni for God's sake, give us some courtesy and at least draw up a special bill for online media. But khalas, they didn't even want to put the least amount of effort, and just decided to pass the same regulations that apply to print media on online media. Of course, as the norm goes in Jordan, after 10 years, some decent Minister who actually understands what blogging is all about would try to change the law. But that normally happens just when its a bit too late. Oh and by the way, there are two watchdog groups in Jordan. One is part of the Abu Mahjoob forum, and the other is part of the Free Thought Forum (we're still working on it actually); let me know if you want more information.

khalid jarrar
khalid jarrar

I am afraid mkilany that just using nick names isnt enough. its easy to follow your ip address to your house and bust your a**. OK this is very alarming Nas, ia m very upset. how long is it going to be before we hear about the first blogger arrest? you know well that this happened in many countries this far, Syria, Egypt and Iraq among others. What do you really think we should we do Nas? who do you think would be the first arrested blogger?:D

mkilany
mkilany

I say no one can actually monitor this kind of media... Everyone can publish what they want in "imaginary" Characters... let them spend more millions in vein!!!

ola
ola

Well, let's see how long they will bear up, or how well they'll catch up!

kinzi
kinzi

Maybe easier said than done, but I say carry on as usual. I don't want to go back to blogging about cookies.

Shaden
Shaden

Who saw this coming? wow, and I used to pride myself with the Jordanian government's online free speech policy. What's next? ATV was suspended and now this? Nas, are you monitoring these comments? cause my comment did not appear the first time :D

Shaden
Shaden

Who saw this coming? wow, and I used to pride myself with the Jordanian government's online free speech policy. What's next? ATV was suspended and now this?

alurdunialhurr
alurdunialhurr

Iam with you Nas,first time I agree with you. let's call it who guards the guardians.org.

alurdunialhurr
alurdunialhurr

حكومه غير شرعيه وغير منتخبه لا يحق لها ان تسرح بصرصور، الي متي هذا الشعب سيقبل بهده الخزعبلات والمهتارات ؟؟؟؟

Qwaider قويدر
Qwaider قويدر

Really a sad day. How long will this last? "the more you tighten your grip the more systems will slip through your fingers" -Princess Leia to Darth Vader (Star Wars: A new hope)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Plastic Dreams “Maybe you shouldn’t be so gullible in Jordan.” This is exactly the first thing that came out of a friend’s mouth while I was protesting this and this. I have to admit that I really was gullible when the current government announced that it will start putting more work to implement the King’s recommendations on political and social reforms in Jordan. I believed that change is near. I actually thought that change is on its way in Jordan; but this just proves how we’re spiraling backwards. [...]

  2. [...] A Sad Day For Online Free Speech In Jordan I don’t know anymore. I would say it’s a sad day, but I can’t remember one that wasn’t. [...]

  3. [...] -further reading: -http://www.black-iris.com/2007/09/24/a-sad-day-for-online-free-speech-in-jordan/ -http://ajloun.blogspot.com/2007/09/youve-come-long-way-back-baby.html -http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2007/9/330995.html These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  4. [...] “The Jordanian government is going on, what can best be described as, an anti-online free speech jihad. A decision has been made to monitor websites (most likely including the rising popularity of blogs) and to keep them in check with the country’s notorious press and publication laws,” writes Naseem Tarawnah from Jordan. Share This [...]

  5. [...] Does this mean that we will start seeing Jordanian bloggers getting jailed? Or that blogs will start getting blocked right and left? Or what? [...]

  6. [...] Some seriously sad news coming from the one country in the region that seemed adamant to leave Freedom of Speech alone. Too bad! Permalink • Trackback URL [...]

  7. [...] كان يا ما كانكان ياما كان في قديم الزماندخل الفارس الهمام الى مجلس ابي تمام وعلى وجهه قد بانالخوف Ùˆ الوجل Ùˆ الهلع Ùˆ الهوانالحقني يا سيدي الحقني يا فارس الفرسانماذا بك لقد جعلت قلبي يتوقف عن الخفقان يا سيدي ان خبرا في المدينة يسري كالفيضانما هو ؟؟ قطعت قلبي.. قل قبل ان تبدا بالهذيان يقولون يا ابا تمام انه قد ان الاوانلقطع دابر المدونين Ùˆ منعهم من الفلتان ماذا تقول يا مجنون؟ اهذا كلام العقلان الم تكن مدينتا قدوة المدن Ùˆ البلدان الم نضحك على بلدة فلان Ùˆ بلدة علان عندما حجبوا عن رعاياهم موقع لمجلة Ùˆ اخر لفنان الم نحمد الله ان مدويننا في امان الم نحزن لاعتقال مدون Ùˆ نفرح بعقاب السجان اتقول الحقيقة ام انها كاميرا خفية بمكان اقول الحقيقة يا سيدي Ùˆ لتقطع لساني ان نطقت بالبهتانفالصحف كتبت ما اقول Ùˆ اليك البيان Ùˆ المدونون استنكروا Ùˆ قابلو الامر باستهجانفلا كلام بغير حساب بعد اليوم Ùˆ الحذر لسانه صانو ماذا بعد يا فارس الفرساناسيحجبون الفيسبوك Ùˆ ماي سبيس Ùˆ يراقبون من اونلاين؟؟لنعد الى مجالسنا نتجرع البيبسي Ùˆ ننفث الدخانو لنترك العالم يسير امامنا Ùˆ لنشاهد مسيرة الركبانو لنخبر اولادنا اننا ذات يوم كننا مثل هؤلاء شجعانو اننا ذات يوم كتبنا Ùˆ دوننا Ùˆ رقيبنا كان العقل Ùˆ الوجدان رحم الله اياما كننا فيها نفاخر العربانرحم الله زمانا كان يباهي الازمانكان يا ما كان في قديم الزمان [...]

  8. [...] Jordan, formerly the exemplar of free speech in the Arab Middle East, has decided to monitor domestic websites, according to Naseem at The Black Iris. (I can’t read Ammon News, the site referred to, but if anyone’s got a translation into English, help a brother out.) [...]

  9. [...] There are serious concerns that the Jordanian approach to the Internet will comport with the limitations the gouvernment imposes on other media. Press Association’s President Tareq Momani denounced the new restrictions imposed on the electronic journalism saying that : “the Internet is offering a margin of freedom that no other media Outlet enjoys. [...]

  10. [...] american-in-jordan.blogspot.com/2007/09/big-brother-is-watching.html jadmadi.net/blog/2007/09/25/jordans-e-government-wordpress-plugin-10v-beta/ghasseel.blogspot.com/2007/09/blog-post_24.html [...]

  11. [...] يكتب المدون الأردني نسيم الطراونه [ إنكليزي] : ” تشن الحكومة الأردنية ما يمكن وصفه بالجهاد على حرية التعبير على الانترنت. لقد تم إصدار قرار لرصد المواقع (على الأرجح بسبب ارتفاع شعبيه المدونات), وإبقائها تحت سيطرة قوانين الصحافة والنشر الشهيرة.” [...]

  12. [...] Conspiracy theorists unite! The word on the Jordanian blog-o-sphere is one of concern and outrage towards those in government who would try to censor what is written in online publications. The biggest concern is the rumored development of a new, self-censorship plug-in for popular blogging software such as WordPress, Live Journal and Blogger. Allegedly this plug-in will be released by Jordan’s E-Government to “help Jordanian bloggers not to cross the ambiguous red line, easily and smoothly.” [...]