Former Prime Minister and current MP, Abdul Ra’ouf Al-Rawabdeh hosted 17 people at his house yesterday for dinner, including HM King Abdullah II. Why is this even remotely a bit interesting? Because the King attending a lunch at Rawabdeh’s house with these specific 17 people and the conversation that followed is fairly interesting, if you’re in to that sort of thing. The attendees included Prime Minister Nader Dahabi and Senate Leader Zaid Al-Rifai, Taher Al-Masri, Faisal Al-Fayez, and Fayez Al-Tarawneh.
According to Ammon, one of the topics discussed was the government remaining the central authority in the country, making sure that the “Jordan Option” is not an option when it comes to the Palestinian issue, reinstating the Ministry of Information, and government transparency (or lack thereof).
The issue of returning the Ministry of Information is particularly interesting as Ammon reports that opinions were divided on the issue, but it opened the door for the House Speaker to suggest the regulation and control of online websites. Media honcho, Ahmad Safadi was also in the room when this was being discussed, and he’s got his own “concerns” regarding bloggers that are fairly well known at this point.
Now almost anything Ammon reports is worthy of reading with a grain of salt, however, what I personally heard through the grapevine (which you should also take with a grain of salt…just for the flavor), is that the topic of controlling and regulating the media as a whole, and specifically online media, was a very hot discussion, with none other than the head of the GID, Mohammad Dahabi, arguing (perhaps surprisingly) against the idea, hinting at a more liberal stance towards the media sector.
In any case, whatever the details be…
Whoever comes up with these absurd ideas of “controlling” the Internet in Jordan, is simply put, insane. Yes, that’s a strong word. But, in my opinion, you can be of sane mind to suggest controlling what is truly designed to be uncontrollable. You either ban it all together or you stop messing around. This is to say nothing that any little move the government makes with regards to online regulation will backfire in the biggest of ways, as there is an international and perhaps local awareness, that the Internet is a free zone, and any attempt to redefine it on the local level will automatically be seen as the gravest of sins against free speech and expression.
So you really have to be insane to even touch this third rail. Insane or, perhaps, mentally challenged. Either may apply.
I think the fact that it has become such an issue amongst the elderly political spheres of the country is that they are the primary targets of the media. Moreover, it is a reflection of just how senile you have to be in order to make such absurd suggestions out loud and in the company of smarter people. Also, what makes it even more absurd is that they talked about ensuring government transparency!
The same grapevine is reporting that changes in the cabinet are upcoming and will see a total of five ministers leaving including the Minister of Foreign Affairs.