There is an absurd law – the Citizenship law – in Jordan that women who marry foreigners cannot pass the Jordanian citizenship on to their children. Most reside in Jordan, these are Jordanian women, with, for all intents and purposes, Jordanian kids who were born on this soil and have probably lived here their entire lives. Yet, just like a foreigner, they need to renew their residency permits every year.
While many might think the Citizenship law affects mainly Jordanian women who have married, say, an American or European man, this stubborn law seems to be aimed mostly at Jordanian women who have married non-national Palestinian men. According to a Jordan Times piece by Rana Husseini…
In November 2002, the government announced that it was examining the possibility of amending articles in the Citizenship Law to grant Jordanian women the right to pass on their citizenship to their children. But five months later, then-interior minister Samir Habashneh announced that the government had no intention of granting citizenship to children of Jordanian women married to Palestinians until a settlement is reached in the Palestinian conflict.
â€œThis issue is no longer possible because it means granting citizenship to around half-a-million Palestinians in Jordan,â€ the minister said.
Habashneh disclosed that there are about 60,000 Jordanian women married to Palestinians and the average number of children in each of these families is around 6.5. â€œThis means giving the Jordanian citizenship to around 500,000 Palestinians,â€ he said.
It’s kind of strange to have a law that can target both women, children and Palestinians all at the same time. That’s one clever piece of legislation.
But the ex-Minister’s reasoning begs a few questions. Why are those half-a-million Palestinians not granted citizenship in the first place. At this point in time, most if not all, have been born and raised her for more than a generation.
Second of all, what is the difference between the offspring produced by a Palestinian man and a Jordanian woman, versus a Palestinian woman and a Jordanian man?
Third of all, isn’t this, on some level, a way for the state to cause divisions between Palestinians in Jordan and Jordanians, when on a social level they have been intermarrying for years? Most marriages in the country seem to be between Jordanians and Jordanians of Palestinian origin anyway.
Fourth, and more importantly, we are looking at (potentially) 500,000 people who are here illegally, thus making all their activities, such as working, getting an education, access to health care, all illegal activities. They simply do not exist. Making them citizens is likely to mean 500,000 more poor people and 500,000 more unemployed people in the country. This only means we already had 500,000 poor people and 500,000 unemployed people; we’re just calling them that now.
The reason for this post was that while reading the article today, I was reminded of the Syrian man in the Baqa’a refugee camp we visited almost 2 months ago. Married to a Jordanian, with several kids and even a grandson, none of them are considered Jordanian. I remember their sick child, shivering from the cold. And I remember that he had no access to health care. The Jordanian government wouldn’t treat them because they weren’t Jordanian, and the UNRWA and other camp-services wouldn’t treat them because they weren’t Palestinians.
What do you do with a law like that?
Where do you go from there?
The numbers will only continue to grow. What will the state do then? Will it have to revoke the Jordanian citizenship from Jordanian women who decide to marry foreigners?