Yesterday, as everyone knows, was the second anniversary of the Amman bombings. I decided to join the caravan of cars that that traveled from the Martyrs of Amman Park, to all three hotels that were targeted, and then back. Earlier in the day, Prince Ali planted an olive tree at the park to honor the day.
But then I noticed something strange about this park. In the midst of parliamentary elections, where banners and posters hang from just about everywhere and every place you can think of in Amman, this park was void from the usual colorful vibrancy. I thought to myself this might be because most candidates wouldn’t want to campaign near a place that has become a sacred ground, commemorating a national tragedy and honoring the fallen.
I was wrong. Naturally.
Right behind the black plaque where the names of the fallen were listed, and the makeshift white tent that was put up for Prince Ali and the press, was a single banner. This single banner stood out like a sore thumb in a campaign-free environment, which is why I, and others, noticed it so much.
The first line of the banner reads: “Jordan is an oasis of security and stability.” To the best of my translation, the second line reads: “[in spite of] those who are treacherous and seek destruction.”
Just down the street, on the other end of the park, was another banner, this one reading: “We are all your soldiers, oh Jordan.”
These posters are for none other than candidate for the third district, Abdul Rahman Al Boucai. This guy used to be the deputy mayor once upon a time, and his face is currently plastered all over town. Some of those banners, like the one shown below, have the following (ironic) slogan: “National unity is a practice [lies in action], not slogans [not in slogans].”
Now I’ve seen some pretty silly posters throughout all this campaigning (and that is a post for another day), however this one was just plain low. I know that not every one might feel the same, or perceive this on the same wavelength, and I respect that. However, I personally, as a Jordanian citizen, found these specific banners, their slogans, their message, and their placement, to be downright offensive and inappropriate. Al Boucai’s campaign has essentially sullied the memory of this day by using a national tragedy for political gain. Had they been his normal posters I may not have given this as much thought, but these banners were specifically targeting this site, this day, and the audience in attendance.
I asked the security guard who guards the house literally meters away whether these banners had been put up at the start of the campaign and he told me that Boucai’s people hung them the day before; on November 8th.
To any one who feels I may be overreacting, I need not put this into context of the elections. An election not a single candidate has a political platform of any kind and their entire (non)issue-based agenda can be whittled down to various slogans (because most of them couldn’t just pick one), that are only a few sentences long, but long enough to suit the attention span of the common Jordanian motorist as he drives by. In other words, with elections in Jordan centering entirely on what is said in a slogan or a 10-word answer (as well as the family name), then the common citizen must base their electoral decision on these slogans, bringing their message to prominence where they should otherwise pass unnoticed.
To make a slogan out of a nation tragedy, to me, that’s just playing dirty.
Boucai should take them down himself and apologize to the public and the families of all the victims listed on that plaque a few meters away.