For some reason when Abu Odeh was charged a few days ago for remarks he said about the royal family and the Jordanian government’s treatment of Jordanians of Palestinian origins, everyone jumped on a free speech bandwagon. The idea was that the government had decided to go after Abu Odeh in another set back to free speech in the country. At first I didn’t get it, and perhaps I still don’t because after reading the story on what happened it seems Abu Odeh was not charged by the government but by Mufti Ahmed al-Jadaya of Jerash and several other citizens who felt the comments were offensive. A complaint was filed and the case, like any other, arrived at the courts where today it has been dismissed.
If this was in fact the case as I’ve understood it (and perhaps I’ve misunderstood it) then I don’t see where the problem is. On a deeper level I agree with anyone who says no one should be tried for criticism of the state, but if we are invoking constitutional rights, isn’t it the citizen’s right to file a complaint?
As for what was actually said. There has been a lot talk about the need for dialog and reconciliation and other synonyms that imply the existence of a gulf so deep between Palestinians and Jordanians.
Splitting hairs over identities is a topic that drives me up the wall and it’s one I avoid talking about on my blog. I don’t understand people need to be so obsessive about this topic that if a stranger was passing by they’d think this was a black versus white issue. Cries of discrimination will never disappear despite any dialog. If we look at those considered to be Jordanian-Jordanian and those considered Jordanian-Palestinian, both complain of discrimination and underrepresentation. And if the status quo was reversed I am positive both would still complain.
The irony here is that it’s not “ethnicities” or “identities” that are underrepresented. Those living in poverty have more or less no representation in the country. So if Abu Odeh and his likes are indeed more concerned with national unity and welfare of all the people of Jordan then they, and we, should all act like it and think of Jordanians as a collective entity divided by wealth and not cross-border origins in an area that is all together smaller than the state of Indiana.
Politics is a dirty game enough as it is.