Anti-Normalization Protesters Beaten In Jordan: Permission To Speak Freely Sir?

Yesterday, around 300 protesters outside the Ministry Of Agriculture were protesting the import of Israeli goods and found themselves beaten by Gendarmerie Forces. Their crime was that they didn’t have permission to protest. How did the government react to the protesters being beaten?

By publically declaring (with a straight face) that the protesters, essentially, didn’t have the right paperwork.

As most know, to protest or demonstrate or rally or march or heck, to get together in a large group in Jordan, you have to, by way of the Public Gatherings Law, get permission from the government, specifically the governor. Boy, I wish I had numbers as to how many applications are approved and denied in a single year, but you can probably guess what the governor’s answer is to most of the political applications.

Suffice to say, every time a protest gets dispersed and a government official invokes the infamous “it was illegal” declaration, it only serves to remind Jordanians that our constitutional right to speak our minds is getting its frequent trampling on, and it only serves to remind the rest of the world that we live in a country that applies laws resembling that of a police state.

Ironically, there’s also a law somewhere against tarnishing the image of the country or undermining the state’s dignity. I’m almost sure there is.

Anyways, I guess this isn’t the right time to wonder what ever happened to “freedom square”?

Sigh.

Never mind.


Video of the protest (fast forward to 4:30min)


44 thoughts on “Anti-Normalization Protesters Beaten In Jordan: Permission To Speak Freely Sir?

  1. a few random thoughts

    *Jordanians cannot peacefully stand in line in front of shawerma reem, so it baffles me how they think when they gather for protesting it will be civil and peaceful.

    *the evil Gendarmerie forces are also Jordanian citizens who will deal with crowds the same way they deal with 6aboor el qa6ayef in ramadan by pushing and shoving and unnecessary force. they deal with soccer games more aggressively.

    *The same a7zab o 7oqoqeyeen o mo3arada such as the Islamic brotherhood spoke against CEDAW… Oh so NOW they call for human rights.

    *People against normalization need to start getting real, go see the normalization in Jerusalem where Arab OBEY Israeli traffic and pedestrian laws but cruise the streets of their holy land like sheep on crack as soon as they are out on the other side of the wall

    * Why don’t we have delicious efficiently grown kiwis and mangoes? why is the grass greener on the other side when we have the same land and soil? oh ya cause the Jews stole our water

    *Arab should be happy paying extra for israeli produce la2enno min ree7et el blaad instead of settling for holy dirt brought back by their western passports holding normalized relatives, there you go a kiwi that is grown in the holy soil, soil doesn’t taste as good.

    *out of all the times the crowds exercised their right to freedom of speech, how many where actually useful ? or is that besides the point ?

  2. @Maha,
    I salute you and I agree with yours points however, they do have the right to protest without getting permission as long as it’s peaceful but yes, peaceful protest isn’t in our dictionary.

    If this event unveils anything it would be the ability to photograph and video tab the protest without being questioned and without having the material censored, which is dramatically amazing!

  3. Leaving the stomach turning comments behind.. The Policeman who pushed the guy right into the middle of the street should be tried for attempted murder!

    But Naseem, I guess the Gendarmerie forces should be doing something.. I mean they are paid to do something(or are they?).

  4. If I am in UK I boycott all Israeli goods as everything is labelled with the country of origin. Surely these protesters can get themselves together and publish a list of all goods imported into Jordan from Israel and then the public can boycott them.

  5. @maha: sometimes the online world limits my powers of perception so I pray that you are being sarcastic, because if you’re suggesting limits on free speech simply because you disagree with what’s being protested and who’s doing the protesting, then it sadly explains a lot about why we are what we are, and more importantly, why we accept it.

    @jad: my guess is, in all the hustle and bustle, the cameras were forgotten. now during the gaza protests a few months ago, you could collect cameras lenses off the ground as a souvenir.

    @mohanned: i have nothing against any of the country’s security apparatus, as long as they’re not beating up people, I’m fine with them.

    @TJoLadies: not to rush to anyone’s defense unnecessarily because that’s besides the point of this post, but they do have compiled and distributed lists. the point of this protest was to raise awareness and to get the ministry itself to stop allowing for the import of these goods.

  6. This is gross and @ Maha like Naseem I really hope you are speakign in Sarcasm. I think if anything people should write and write and write about this law to get it abolished before anything else. It is a very limiting law and Naseem we need to have that chat about lawmakers and parliamentarians! I really think we can do something and hold them accountable. They should be involved in both abolishing this law and in issues like this.

    Back to point though. This is not new and I really think people should continue to assemble and the government exposed for its shame of Human rights flag it flies. Who was it that said “I may disagree with what you said, but I will defend your right to say it”?

    Also at some of the comments that talk about our disorder and chaos I am sick of people who sit comfortably at home and point fingers and criticize Jordanians, Arabs, the “systems” and all that… You are part of the problem too. First you partake just as much when in similar situations (watch your behavior), two when you always put down our people you are keeping expectations so low that no will want to strive for better. raise the behavior bar and people will follow the system! TO cite the shawerma reem example, shawerma reem does not have any fights and jostling to get a sandwhich anymore, there is a numbering system and teh guys inside just call out your number while you wait and you pick it up, no fighting!

    Naseem sorry this turned into a mini rant on your blog maybe I need to write about a few things on mine ๐Ÿ˜‰ and lets get together.

    S.

  7. I know I’m preaching to the choire but this is absolutely horrible!

    Why does a group of people who want to express their love or hatred to something need approval of the government in the first place?

    This is a slap in the face and an explicit violation to basic human rights!

    Not just that it doesn’t stand for what “modern, civilized” Jordan calls for, it goes to show that the government’s and Queen Rania’s ongoing social efforts is nothing but a big PR stunt to cover up incidents like these. The hipocricy is just mind blowing!

    I hate to say it, but we’re still where we were and will not move forward unless absurd laws such as the infamous “Public Gatherings Law” are either amended or better yet totally ommitted!

    PS: I also hope Maha is being ironic.

  8. “As most know, to protest or demonstrate or rally or march or heck, to get together in a large group in Jordan, you have to, by way of the Public Gatherings Law, get permission from the government, specifically the governor.”

    i think they should be protesting this law first .. since it limits their right to protest anything else .. they need to get their priorities straight ..

    having said that .. since this law exists .. and since they broke it .. so beatings are in order .. or should i say are to be expected .. i’m not saying this is right .. i’m just telling it like it is ..

  9. I’m all for their right to protest and such, but as a professional union of engineers how is that an issue that concerns them …. oh i forgot they think they are a political party ๐Ÿ˜›
    It’s even laughable as well how they cry for human rights when they take the position of the whipper on most of the human rights issues.
    When any group gathers or protests illegally the risk of control by the security forces is always present so i won’t shed a tear about it happening, especially since they sometimes antagonize the security forces against their opposition. More so is the fact when the gathering law was changed i didn’t hear a whimper (as far as i can recollect) from them … yeah i hope they decide whether they want to be a professional union or a political party because they shouldn’t have it both ways

  10. @Jad Yes keyword is peaceful, but peaceful protests don’t get as much publicity

    @ Naseem ..i can’t believe you still use the sarcasm radar on me!!but you do know that my twisted thoughts are based on painful truths.
    Naseem & shalabieh
    I am for free speech all the time for everyone as long as people are intelligent and respectful …and it’s self respect i’m talking about not respecting crocked governments and retarded laws.
    My random sarcastic commentary was critical of a lot of things that indirectly relate to the demonstrators, the way the demonstrate what their beef..but mostly our hypocrisy about it all

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Voltaire”
    i knew it was a matter of time before someone came and said this..i have no problem with people saying whatever as long as they can genuinely stick to their words..if you are willing to die for what you say i’m willing to defend your right to say it ๐Ÿ˜€ if you don’t mean it shut the hell up!

    as to the why we are the way we are and why we accept it (i can launch a blog on that ALONE)
    we think we are awesome the way we are all the time! we are too proud of ourselves when we should be striving to be something worth being proud of

  11. @shalabieh : rant away

    @mo: you may be right about the priorities as well as the expectations, and in both instances, the way it is is rather sad.

    @bambam: i absolutely agree with you regarding the role of the association and its involvement in such matters to begin with. nevertheless, free speech and expression should never be selective (and you know that). farmers and dentists should be allowed to protest sending peacekeepers to haiti as far as the law should be concerned.

    @maha: i dont think it’s right for us (or any legally-formed government committee) to judge who is intelligent enough to speak and who is not. there is enough hypocrisy to go around and a lack of intelligence as well…but neither should ever be used as a litmus test for who gets to speak and who doesn’t. universal rights should be applied universally (and ironically we are signatories to the universal declaration of…forget it)

    i’m not a fan of shehan or any other tabloid newspaper, but ensuring their right to publish what they want is how you ensure the more credible papers to publish whatever they want.

  12. Is their something unusual about this video? I have become numb to seeing similar behavior played out in various different circumstances on the streets of Amman regularly…

  13. From a point of making a statement. If the opposition do not start beating you and viciously attacking you. Then you are not heard.

    Violence gives the illusion of sacrifice, which makes us show more solidarity. If they were not beaten a bit. We wouldn’t have heard abt the whole subject.

    Its weird right? You have to take a beating to make a point.

    p.s. Im not condoning the beating just explaining.

  14. Notice how in the beginning of the video, the security person in charge is addressing people with respect and repeatedly calling them “ya mo7taram” (fast forward to 1:20). He even instructs one of his officers to use that same language and tone (at 1:26).

    But then, it all goes wrong when one idiot officer decides to use the stick to beat one of the demonstrators on the head and then his more idiotic friends get personally offended when the demonstrator calls that guy a “7aqeer.”

    What else did that guy expect to be called? A hero?

  15. look nas this argument ( to me) boils down to those point:
    * is it their right to protest as individuals or a group yes, but without a permit they should suffer the consequences like everyone else and if they protest under their union the union should be penalized for breaking the law as well (when did that ever happen)
    * if they so far as even allude in the slightest way for free speech or human rights then they have the right to protest on those grounds but they sententiously appose both unless it suites them. so when i see that done to them I’m hopeful they will learn something and change their opinion, but alas they are to trenched in their pride and self righteousness.
    * This is not simply a case of free speech … free speech should be guaranteed on the personal level, the right to organized should be guaranteed on the personal level. once you move from the personal level there is always a law governing the limits on organizations and the limits they have to abide to to maintain their legal status… now since they are an association they should suffer the consequence and they never do! When it comes to protesting an issue there is always two paths to do it, one from within the system and one outside of the system… since they are legally recognized they choose the former and should abide by the rules and not cry foul when they come back to bite them.
    For the record I hate how they function as a proxy for IAF and how a professional association is so entrenched in politics that it alienates some of the professionals because they have an opposing view. Have you ever asked why isn’t it the farmers or their union that are protesting the issue ?

  16. I totally agree and totally disagree… no this is not an enigma but rather a realistic look into this and similar incidents that took place in Amman.

    I think what Maha said in that we (Jordanians) cannot even form a line (queue) to buy a Shawerma sandwich in a civilised manner is 100% true but yet this does not give the authorities the right to kick and bat anyone and everyone simple because they wish to express an opinion (as long as they are respecting the law).

    However, I do NOT condone nor endorse the spread of Israels products in Jordan… Iรคm not silly but I do not want to be seen as supportive to Israeli farmers, Iยดd rather support Arab farmers everywhere.

  17. Jordan needs to set its priorities in terms of freedom of speech, assembly and expression. Khalas already…. let people say what they want (barring inciting violence) and ensure that the state and police protect that right.

    I’m living abroad right now and a lot of my friends are studying international and human rights law and it’s getting tiring when every few weeks someone shoves a report or article in my face of rights abuses in Jordan (arrested poets, beaten protesters, prosecuted professors…. not to mention the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports etc….).

    It’s especially annoying when you spent the night before telling people how great Jordan is and convincing them that they should visit!!!

  18. Oh please don’t tell me your shocked! please please!!! we are not Americans here, it doesn’t break my heart seeing people getting beaten for defending their ideologies.. It doesn’t break my heart seeing religious and irreligious slogans flying high for nothing!! as usual :), since I have always hated them!
    What your post means to me, is just another reason why I’d rather live as an alien in Europe and still get discriminated even if I ever got my citizenship… than living here.

    I do not really deny what this country had given me, it made me a fighter a struggler on all levels…

    On the other hand, it’s shameful how people go out on the street doing what media is provoking them to do, and they don’t bother defending their least rights.. living ๐Ÿ™‚ please don’t get me wrong though, I’m not a conspiracy victim! no thank you

    Finally Chaos is beautiful! and blood is too attempting for the world, I bet they could chose it over porn!

  19. @bambam: despite your disagreements with these organizations, how they function and what they choose to protest, it really doesn’t matter. you cannot, in all fairness, simply discard a person’s right to say something simply because you disagree with them, you don’t like them, and you wish their mother never gave birth to them. i see your point, but this is not how this works (or how it should work).

    as for abiding by the law. i agree with you. any organization that chooses to break the law has chosen that path and has to deal with the consequences of it.

    however, doesn’t this only draw our attention to ask the quintessential question: is this law a just and valid one in the first place?

    which leads us to other questions like whether there a benefit to breaking that law?

    does the law contradict our constitutional rights, as well as the rights and obligations guaranteed us by the state signing a bunch of international documents that say it will guarantee those rights?

    i remember there being a country that banned the use of contraceptions at one point on religious grounds decades and decades ago, with that law still being continued, which leads one to the logical assumption that in a day and age where sexually-spread diseases are dangerous (e.g. HIV and AIDs), are that country’s citizens doing a disservice by breaking the law?

    just reasons need to be behind laws and polices. we can’t simply abide by them because the people who drew them up say we must. if we had marshal law, would we be saying the same thing? we have laws the protect people who kill the female members of their family?

    do the small incidents not help us call attention to the larger problem at hand? does it not enable us to question the law and viability?

    that’s my point.

  20. A little too lase to be protesting the import of Israeli goods, no? Especially when the country they live in has a peace agreement with Israel (in other words, accepts the “legitimacy” of their existence). They should have protested hard against the establishment of an Israeli embassy in Jordan rather than mere cans of Israeli food.

  21. come on people, i appreciate the enthusiasm and everything , but honestly isn’t being “civilized” means the we should respect the “LAW”, i mean do something first and change the law or cancel it then protest as u wish, and any illegal gathering in any “civilized country” would be eventually stopped one way or another , and what’s with the normalization thing , we have a peace agreemnt with them already :), and if u want it 2 be a free country then it means u can choose what 2 buy, and i’m sure that everyone knows where everything is coming from , so stop the hypocrasy, and why would we ask the governement to stop importing these goods whatever they are , i’m sure some people don’t mind buying them, this is just another show for “al jazira” by people who want to decide for the country and who porbably have nothing better to do or maybe some farmers whose jobs have been affected ,add to that everyone knows that there are jewish goods here just stop buying it and they won’t be imported , and yes this is a “police” state, so wake up people , and it couldn’t be run in any other way, just think about it

  22. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am…sadly. Regardless of these individuals’ positions, whether they have been consistent or not in their support for human rights, whether they are using this to promote a certain agenda or not, their right to free speech and assembly should be recognized, protected, and defended.
    To insinuate that some people are not “civilized” enough to be allowed to protest, or not educated enough to be given this right, are the same people who will delay the development of democracy in Jordan and the rest of the Arab world. While they criticize others for not understanding what democracy is about, they themselves are hurting the cause of free speech.
    Yes, maybe Jordanians can’t stand in a shawerma line, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to protest. Most people know that plain clothed men from the security apparatus often join these protests and encourage violence so that the rest of the country can read headlines the next day that portray the protesters as uncivilized hooligans. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s the way Arab regimes function.
    Thanks Nas for pointing out that the issue is about *freedom of speech and assembly*, not the issues being protested.

  23. – Some are saying that some people are better than others, thus rights shouldn’t be granted equally..Hmm…Class supremacy?
    – Some people are arriving to conclusions that they present as realities when in fact they are only assumptions.
    – The “there is a law” argument is a tired one. Laws are changed constantly, legally and illegaly. And something being a “law” doesn’t mean that it is right or just.
    – While I agree that professional associations should stay profissional, I don’t see an alternative to them getting involved in politics. Yes in many cases they are hypocrites but that must not mean that we should condone limiting their rights.
    – Jordan is ranked 5th in the world when it comes to “security” spending as a percentage of the GDP..What does this number mean? I mean, who should we congratulate on this?

  24. I don’t get how individual protesters for a cause can be confused with legally recognized entity that is over stepping their boundaries … you are talking about democracy and change, from a professional association? bleh i don’t get and somehow the pharmas are at fault for using the ownly tool within their means … what logic is that ?

  25. MO,,I might add ,the subject is not only whether we have the right to protest this shameful relationship with this usurping criminal entity that have for long time supported this puppet western/Zionist illegal government..

  26. Wow…the blase attitude of people is really disturbing…”ooh, we have normalisation, deal with it”…”there are some people who like to buy those goods, let them”….thats just shocking…if that was the attitude of people towards apartheid south africa then the whites would still be oppressing the blacks there. I don’t know whats worse – the idiots who blame Israel for everything, or the idiots who come up with crap like that.

    What i would like to know is the following:

    1. Is there a line in the peace treaty that says all demonstrations against Israel are banned and must be violently put down?

    2. What kind of training are the police receiving that they always seem ready to beat the crap out their compatriots, particularly those protesting against Israel!?

  27. “1. Is there a line in the peace treaty that says all demonstrations against Israel are banned and must be violently put down? ”

    TO give you an idea: The whole elections law was changed so that the treaty could pass the parliment, so go figure..Democracy and Peace with Israel can’t co-exist, got it?

    Bam,
    “I donโ€™t get how individual protesters for a cause can be confused with legally recognized entity that is over stepping their boundaries ”

    Does this mean that being an engineer and a member of the assocition should limit my ability to freely express my opinions or protest? I think you mean that they need to find a different platform and/or create another entity to represent them politically, right? Do you think the regime will allow such thing to happen?

  28. What’s funny about this discussion, with all due respect, is that we’re still debating the right of free speech and the right for assembly!!

    What’s also funny is that the police officer beating up the protester reminded me of Israeli soldiers beating up Palestinians at checkpoints. Or is that a stretch?!

    If a bunch of rich kids from the Bacalorya and Montessori schools were protesting and were filmed being beaten up like this, would we be even having this discussion to begin with? Or do women with headscarves and men with beards bring back memories of “uncivilized”?!

    Ah, Sarkozy must be laughing at us!

  29. Mohannad; they do … its called the IAF; they certainly intermingle. its just they have a bigger space to do it under this “entity”. as for your first question no i don’t think it should limit you as an individual but if you want to organize it illegally under the name of a legal association then don’t except the government to turn a blind eye to this, which they always do .
    anyways we can all agree about the beatings not being the best way to handle this but that is the normal by product of any protest and its always expected, thats my opinion … i just think those guys got a lot more publicity, protection and consideration than some of the people at the beginning of the year

  30. aslan protests are haram .. the saudi mufti said so during the war on gaza ..

    nas .. in case ur sarcasm radar still isn’t working properly that was sarcasm

  31. Totally off the point but why are we so cavelier with spelling, particularly of names:

    Baccalaureate becomes “Bacalorya”
    Orthodox becomes “Orthodoxi” and so many other similar Jordanisation of names abound.

    Many of the streets and avenues of Amman are named for people who would not recognise their names as the Municipality of Amman chooses to spell them, although in most cases there is a spelling which is known and accepted world wide as such !

  32. Just a note to some who think that a peace treaty means its OK to buy Israeli – no its not please look up BDS- Boycott Divestment and Sanctions for Palestine – this is how we as individuals, or organizations or as governments we can pressure Israel to end occupation.

    A live example of that is how BDS affected the end of the South African Apartied system after years of struggle the role of the international community this way helped immensely. So yes asking the government not to buy Israeli does make a difference and when you buy you make a choice everytime you spend a tiny piaster on something.

  33. I can’t help my self …. asking a government to boycott something is simply stating “hey big daddy i truly can’t help myself from not buying that israeli product and I think you are doing a bad thing by giving me the choice to buy it and you should not provide me that choice.” ….
    hmmm childish ? i think so.
    Here is another silly idea, the goverment is not the one buying the product; busniesses and individuals are … find who they are and protest against them … when you sign trade agreements and free trade treaties (whether you agree with them or not) you need to maintain your credibility by either renouncing them or committing to them. you can’t as a country do what the engineering society does and have one’s cake and eat it too …

  34. “Just a note to some who think that a peace treaty means its OK to buy Israeli – no its not please look up BDS- Boycott Divestment and Sanctions for Palestine – this is how we as individuals, or organizations or as governments we can pressure Israel to end occupation.”

    this is true .. i’d like to add that these goods are not “israeli goods” they are “settlement goods” .. and there is a difference .. it’s all stolen land to me but you know international law considers israel a country and settlements occupied land ..

    http://www.alarabalyawm.net/pages.php?wcase=1

    so to bambam and the rest who are defending importing such goods .. i’d like to tell you that some european countries are boycotting such goods on the grounds that they are produced in occupied land .. so if europe is doing it .. i guess we should be doing it too?

  35. lol … how did my argument of “they had it coming for breaking the law and they are protesting at the wrong place ” turn into “an arab Zionist defending israeli settlements right to poison the arab world with their produce … TRAITOR ! ” is that super power of self delusion again ?

  36. bambam nobody called u an arab zionist or a traitor .. so no need for the drama ..
    however u did say ..

    “Here is another silly idea, the goverment is not the one buying the product; busniesses and individuals are โ€ฆ find who they are and protest against them”

    and that is why i said what i said about european governments ..

    further reading ..
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0811/S00199.htm
    http://www.counterpunch.org/barghouti11132008.html

    i think u should be discussing why jordan is allowing the import of settlement goods in the first place .. instead of focusing on if the engineer union has a right to protest or not .. that’s kind of beside the point imho

  37. hmm so the whole situation devolves into they are forcing you to eat avocado and persimmons with a stick … how about that for soundbites. Again not the point and its childish … you don’t support it, don’t buy it no body is forcing you to .

  38. i think this quote from the article i linked to sums it up …

    ุงู„ู‚ุถูŠุฉ ู„ูŠุณุช ู‚ุถูŠุฉ ูุงูƒู‡ุฉ ู„ู… ูŠูƒู† ุงู„ุดุนุจ ุงู„ุฃุฑุฏู†ูŠ ูŠุนุฑูู‡ุง ุฅู„ู‰ ุฒู…ู† ู‚ุฑูŠุจุŒ ูˆู„ูƒู†ู‡ุง ู‚ุถูŠุฉ ูุฑุถ ุฅุฑุงุฏุงุช. ูุฅู† ุฃู…ูƒู† ูุฑุถ ุงู„ุฃููˆูƒุงุฏูˆ ูˆุงู„ู…ุงู†ุบุง ูˆุงู„ูƒุงูƒุง ูˆุงู„ูƒูŠูˆูŠ ุงู„ู‚ุงุฏู…ุฉ ู…ู† ุงู„ู…ุณุชูˆุทู†ุงุช ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ุดุนุจ ุงู„ุฃุฑุฏู†ูŠ ุจุงู„ุนุตูŠ ูˆุงู„ู‡ุฑุงูˆุงุชุŒ ูู‚ุฏ ุชู… ูุฑุถ ุงู„ู…ุณุชูˆุทู†ุงุช ุจูƒู„ ู…ุง ุชู…ุซู„ู‡ ูˆู…ุง ุชุฌุฑู‡ ู…ุนู‡ุง

Your Two Piasters: