Grassroot Movements In Jordan: How Social Is Our Social Activism

In recent months I’ve noticed a new way of social activism emerging in Jordan and it’s happening on a grassroots level. By grassroots I am referring to something that is taking place on a societal level and not by government bodies, institutions, NGOs or social entrepreneurs. Different issues, causes and people have been coming together in very small amounts to fight for something that can be carefully categorized as a problem for the Jordanian society as a whole.

The problem is, a common thread that seems to run throughout these movements is that the people behind them and the people that seem to flock to them are from a certain segment of society that is somewhat disassociated with the problem. In other words, the issue they are fighting for or against is not necessarily an issue that affects them personally, but they feel a need to play a role. And this is great. I am not one to come down on any form of social activism.

However, this brings me to the topic at hand: how social is our social activism?

Yes, there are issues being fought for and there is movement by some who are typically western-educated, middle-to-upper class people living in west Amman. However, when these people fight for a community they are relatively disassociated from, to what extent is that community involved.

From observation, I can safely say that most NGOs and government bodies in this country have often dictated to communities what they think is best for them, all the way from their offices in Shmisani. Few of them have worked in the communities they operate in – the communities they advocate for, the communities that find them spending massive amounts of money, time and effort.

The same might be said for this new wave of social activism that seeks to be grassroots yet seems fairly disconnected from the communities they seek to empower. Don’t get me wrong, the affluent segment of society in this country, or what we commonly refer to as “West Ammanis”, do indeed have a lot to offer. They are, by nature of their backgrounds, change-agents. However, what remains comes down to the approach. How do west Ammanis tackle societal problems that they are not necessarily connected to? How do they create change in communities without being a part of those very communities?

The danger lies in their tendency to apply ideals that are incoherent with the majority of this country – a majority that operates, thinks, and behaves in a certain way. This tendency might stem from the very background of a traditional west Ammani. Let’s face it, we’re stuck in a bubble. Personally, one of the biggest problems I’ve faced on a daily basis is the need to think outside the bubble I inhabit, no matter how thick its ozone layer is. Otherwise, whatever solutions you think of, whatever methods you choose, whatever initiatives you take may not be applicable when forced to consider the voice of the majority. And whatever way you look at it, you will always be the outsider with outsider ideas and ideals, trying to enforce change in an otherwise contently static status-quo.

So what’s the perscription?

To get a better sense of things, I’m forced to look at what is perhaps the largest and fastest-growing community in the world right now: Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, its founder, once famously said that “you don’t start communities, they already exist.” In other words, the question we should be asking is how we can help them do whatever it is they want to do or are already doing, better. Give them, what Zuckerberg cleverly refers to as “elegant organization” (see: What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis).

In other words: the role of a grassroots social activist in Jordan should be to help create real change in a community by empowering that community to do things for themselves. It’s the only sustainable method. And in the process, the most you can hope to offer them is a bit of elegant organization in order to help them do what they truly want to do.

And by the way, on a side note, just because they might not be doing something you think they should be doing, doesn’t mean they’re wrong. It’s their community. It’s their way of life. It’s essentially their choice. I am completely tired of a small sliver of people dictating to a large majority how to behave, think, speak, act, live and operate. It is not only elitist in its most purest form, but borders closely on pre-historic colonialist views on the oriental world that often send shivers down my spine.


  • I understand your point, and it’s probably true. But I would sya that any involvement is better than nothing. There are several countries that have a similar social structure as Jordan where there is complete dissociation between the upper and lower class. In Jordan where the middle class is vanishing and where the government is helpless is doing anything about it, it’s encouraging to see filthy rich people recognizing that the rest of the country is underprivilged and they should something about it.

  • I think it’s the duty and obligation of the middle and upper classes to instigate social change. Maslow’s Hierarchy; how can you bring about change if you’re too busy fulfilling basic needs (putting food on the table, providing for your children, security, etc.). This is not to assume that East Amman is totally impoverished, but a good chunk is.

    England’s social history is testament to this. It’s usually the upper class that promoted certain norms and morals (seeking higher education, adopting better measures of hygiene), and these norms eventually trickled down to the middle and lower classes. With time, the House of Commons was able to establish several ground-breaking laws, due to the fact that the upper class attended to the needs of the middle and lower classes.

    Still, it’s better than NGOs and other initiatives, I wouldn’t hold my breath on their initiatives. But what’s better than grassroots movements, are organic movements. You know something that society moves to in a gradual, natural manner, and that stems out of the development of society.

  • p,,,,,, I disagree, change as we know it never ever came from rich or the middle class , just look at history of major world change s,the french revolution, the Russian revolution, the Iranian revolution even the so called British social change was instigated by the “lower” and working people. check your history before ranting..

  • Er… On a side-note, You do NOT want anything resembling a Russian revolution. And to say that it was instigated by the lower classes is a huge misnomer. The lower classes just did the dirty work. Check your history indeed.

  • @p,ofcorse,the lower class gets to a level where they are more and more deprived of their basic needs,back to your maslow’s shelter and etc…and revolt aggressively!not seeking change,but seeking easier ways to feed there children,and ways to survive!!!

    @nas U’ve got one good point there!but what scares me is,what is the real motive behind all this>?
    is it some kind of feeling of social obligation,or it just makes you more prestigious???i wonder
    or is it truly,searching for change

    @natalia…dai box to chto tam sluchilas bolshe na povtoritsa 🙂

    “When money speaks, the truth is silent”

    Russian Proverb quotes

  • while you raised some great points, your insistence on sticking to the West Ammani/East Ammani divide seems, to me, a manifestation of the ‘West Ammani bubble’ you said you try hard to get out of. ..Yes we have people who live on both sides of the Amman, yes we face different issues and problems. Doesn’t mean we cannot hold a similar vision for our city, and on a wider scope, our country.
    Giving ownership to communities affected by the issue sounds great, it really really does… and it is something that we talk about a lot in La Sharaf Fil Jareemah … but then you come to the practicalities.
    Take for example one of our focus groups: we asked a number of students to split up into groups and define 3 words: honour, rujuleh and zukuriah … and to discuss how these words affect their lives. That was it, no introductions, no lecturing, just an exercise in meaning-making.
    One of the groups, made up of 7 girls, were sitting silently, so I went up and asked if they had brainstormed their definitions. One of the girls answered me: Fish Bint Sharifeh mumken isirlha ishi – fish dukhan min gheir nar. Ma fi ishi aktar yin7aka 3n il mawdoo3.
    The rest of the girls from the group seemed to sit there frozen, just staring at me. So I took the initiative and started telling her about the most recent crimes, and the post-mortem vindication of the victim’s alleged immorality. She just repeated the same sentence. So I started telling her my story, why I got involved in the issue, how the story about the girl in Zarqa beaten up by her brother with a water hose for 3 hours didn’t leave me for days… and how I felt it wasn’t just victim’s that needed rescuing, but our humanity as a people.
    After around 10 minutes of arguing with her (not lecturing, but offering an alternative narrative of the crimes), the rest of the girls started to talk. One told her that it is often the most ‘moral’ girls who are the victims of malicious gossip, especially if intelligent and beautiful too, because of jealousy. Another talked about girls who are naive and 3la niyat-hum, biju o biru7u bi kilmeh, and how unfair it is that blame is then placed on them rather than the males who used/abused them.
    So yes, idealistically, we need to give ownership to communities affected by the issue. But practically, those of us able to speak up, should start the conversation… and provide support and backup to those who are willing to start talking. Those affected by the issue, might be willing to start talking, but they seem too scared to want to ‘own’ the issue from the beginning… it’s a process, and it starts with a conversation. The most a ‘grassroots’ movement can do in the start for legitimacy, is talk about the issue, be approachable enough for those who want to join the conversation, and non-hierarchical enough to allow those who join to pursue their own ideas and initiatives.
    Sorry for long comment!

  • I’m glad Deena commented, as I am so encouraged by how she and the others ladies are approaching La Sharf fil Jareemah.

    Their attitudes are so filled with humility, their posture that of learners coming alongside. They are not just entering another world to tell lurid stories in theirs, but locking hands with women in another community. They are confident in the strengths they have to offer, but not imposing anything that is unwanted.

  • @Deena:

    Yes we have people who live on both sides of the Amman, yes we face different issues and problems. Doesn’t mean we cannot hold a similar vision for our city, and on a wider scope, our country.

    this is the problem. you’re thinking about it as exclusive to amman, which in itself is ironically derived from west ammani thinking. the problems we face as a country are exactly that: as a country. the dichotomy that emerges is one small bubble called west amman, held up against the entire country. the divide between rich and poor in this country is much wider than the radius of its capital.

    So yes, idealistically, we need to give ownership to communities affected by the issue. But practically, those of us able to speak up, should start the conversation… and provide support and backup to those who are willing to start talking. Those affected by the issue, might be willing to start talking, but they seem too scared to want to ‘own’ the issue from the beginning… it’s a process, and it starts with a conversation. The most a ‘grassroots’ movement can do in the start for legitimacy, is talk about the issue, be approachable enough for those who want to join the conversation, and non-hierarchical enough to allow those who join to pursue their own ideas and initiatives.
    Sorry for long comment!

    see i agree with you in essence, that a conversation needs to be started but those goes back to the same issue that i take with this…

    the underlying assumption that these communities are not already talking. the way social activists and NGOs operate is that they assume these communities are filled with impoverished people that don’t know any better, and somewhere, deep down within them, there seems to be a subconscious need to “civilize” them, to teach them, because they don’t know any better.

    communities are always talking, just because “we’re” not around to hear them doesn’t mean they’re not. they are already doing what they want to do and saying what they want to say. to offer an alternative discourse is often times detrimental to the process of change because that conversation is not evolving organically. if it did, then we could argue that it would be a worthwhile cause to help push it along. but to initiate, lead and thus by default control it, just never works.

    there was a british worker a few years back who spent weeks visiting bedoiun communities, heavily funded and able to host little workshops for the poor bedouin women, teaching them about contraception and about how family planning is necessary, because in essence its the modern thing to do. and by the end she had them all convinced and in agreement that they would be using contraception and applying family planning methods only to return a few years back to find that nothing had changed.

    and that’s one british lady.

    now i consider myself a jordanian, but there is no way that i could ever claim to understand the various communities that makeup my country unless i lived in the very ones i sought to bring positive change to. a focus group doesn’t get the job done. we can’t survey a sample of people and pretend to know everything about them and their way of life, no more than that british lady could ever know that it is bedoin tradition to have many children, to increase the size of the tribe, to increase the number of sons, to have them work alongside their fathers, etc, etc.

    now i’m not sure what you guys are doing with regards to honor crimes so i can’t really say anything about it, but suffice to say that that is an issue that is complex in its own right and has less tangible results due to its nature than other causes initiated by social activists or NGOs that i am referring to in this particular post.

    sorry for the long reply 🙂

  • @P: I agree that it is a duty and obligation. my issue isn’t with responsibilities of the task but with how the task is carried out. and as i mentioned to deena in my above comment, this isnt in reference to the west/east divide of amman, but to the west ammani bubble that stands in contrast to the rest of the country. that bubble makes it difficult for social activists to emerge who truly understand how the other side lives and can thus bring about real and organic change that you refer to, which in my belief, is derived from the people who live in those communities themselves. that is of course assuming we are looking for sustainable change.

  • I am 100% with you on the helplessness of NGOs and Social Activists campaigns that tend to leave out the communities that they cater for from the issue itself. However, I find problematic to assume that the derive behind west Ammani activists is orientalist in its nature to “educate” , “help” or “lecture” the “other”. We believe that although honor crimes broke out in areas with certain socio economic criteria, the thought and conceptions leading to committing a crime are not geographically exclusive to one area or another. We are not fighting the crime as much we are fighting the cultural thoughts and conceptions behind it which we found existing on a national level and on so many social classes including my own familiar “West Ammani” social circle whether its family or friends as in several conversations with them, they couldn’t find an “alternative” other than killing to deal with the issues.
    Being a west Ammani or coming from a more privileged class should not stop me from identifying problems, be self-critical and take actions to try to understand practices and thoughts that are according to any human law wrong and unjust whether those who believe in them like it or not! Just because I am not aware of the complexes of the problem in certain areas, doesn’t make the issue I am concerned with less relevant in these unfamiliar surroundings and should not mean that I should step away from it. This why conversations, mutual exchange of ideas and attitudes, and partnerships with interested groups from all areas is our way to go.

  • Looking at the history of my own country, the USA, the most revolutionary changes have been both bottom-up and top-down. People from disadvantaged communities lead social movements, and privileged elites in government align with these movements as a means of expanding their own power. Consider the cases of women’s enfranchisement or the American civil rights movement. American schoolchildren are taught about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, WEB DuBois, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X, grassroots organizers who came from disadvantaged communities and encouraged greater education, empowerment, and activism among them. But they are also taught about the white men in government who promoted the women’s and civil rights agendas, like the Kennedy family– individuals who probably saw the morality of these agendas, but who also saw the political advantage that a new segment of black and women voters could offer to their parties. In these cases, the political competition afforded by a more liberal political system encouraged the incorporation of disadvantaged groups into the franchise and government benefits.

    What I see as the trouble in Jordan, perhaps more than other countries in the region, is the lack of Martin Luther Kings and Kennedies. Why do we never read about high-profile leaders from East Amman, while stories about royal NGOs or otherwise unemployed West Ammani women doing good deeds proliferate? Why don’t we hear about (non-IAF) lawmakers suggesting to their “parties (ha ha)” that they should mobilize the East Ammani vote and empoer these communities through government intervention and education so they can be better voters and citizens?

    I think we can all venture some answers. First and foremost, there is no real political competition in Jordan. The only party actively mobilizing people outside its own tribe or patronage network is the IAF and we know that this isn’t going to change anything. Second, the regime doesn’t want to empower most of the people in East Amman, or anybody who could pose a redistributive threat to the country’s status quo power structure. Jordan’s class structure is therefore quite rigid, and most of the conduits to higher education and secure income necessary for good activism (military and the bureaucracy) are already filled by existing elite patronage networks. And NGO work remains monopolized by the few who would rather see their relatives and descendants in positions of power, not the people they claim to be helping… they’d just rather see those people a little less poorer, whether to make Amman more aesthetically pleasing, provide genuine humanitarian need, or prevent anger on the part of the deprived.

  • I am not really sure which grassroot movements are refered to in this article, but I have just listened to an interveiw on the radio with a group that could be described as “Grassroot” campaigners and I was very impressed with the tone, attitude and enthusisam they showed. It certainly didn’t come across as “lecturing” or “teaching” less privilaged groups how to think or live. It actually sounded to me more like a learning experience, the group is seeking to listen to the people -weather they’re from west, east… or what ever geography of Jordan- learn what their thoughts on jar2em el sharaf are… and what factors led to these openions.
    Weather they’re going to change the society or not, stop ja2rem el sharaf all together or not, doesn’t make any less of their efforts. For a small group that is trying to engage with people and build on what’s been done previously on this issue, I personaly think this could work well. Having a small group that’s focused on one specifc issue sometimes is more effective, it could bring faster results than bigger orgnisation which have various issue to address.

  • What sort of grassroots movements have been appearing in Jordan lately?

    I don’t know how you get around the fact that people who are more informed and more exposed to the ideas of the outside world will be more active than those who don’t question the status quo in their society. But I suppose arguments could be made as to which direction those grassroots activists should go. Should they focus more on building bridges to other Jordanians through non-political means or should they move to change policies and hope that Jordanians will not actively oppose such changes?

    My guess would be that if the majority of Jordanians are opposed to a cause, then the best route is to assist those negatively impacted by the status quo through any (legal) means possible and then provide them and their problems as much exposure as possible. This might allow more Jordanians to understand the cause in human terms.

  • hmmm I can’t comprehend quite a few things over here … now how do u define jordan as a single community when there is a party up in arms about kicking the other half out ? guess where the majority of that half dwell ? does that make sense why amman is of primary interest ?
    moving on to the other half when it comes to creating trends and activism that whole harmonic and zen idea of organic social movements has its place cemented in myth … no social change is achieved harmonically there is always some conflict.
    Either way now we have to separate two things when it comes to activism, there is a type where the people behind it have the bought into those ideas and will sacrifice to achieve them and the other half where they have an agenda to achieve and its just a job. The later sounds like the one that you tackled but that is the nature of it and the purpose of it is not to be the change itself, its just a catalyst and an impetus. if you pardon the insult it derives of the ingenious experiments of “monkey see, monkey do” chain of thought and it just starts those clusters of people who bought into those ideas to champion “their” cause.
    The other half could care less about a wide a country wide change of mentalities, and lets be realistic that there is nothing that this country can agree about as a whole. Those groups care about impacting their immediate surrounding and environment in a way to benefit them, activism at its heart is not empathetical; It simply wants what is best for its people by whatever means possible.
    Once the issue is raise by those people the “tug of war” game starts and the polarization occurs and depending on the strength of the buy-in change might occur.
    In that sense it is more like osmosis that your suggestion of ionization ….
    actually on a tangential note; its good that things are moving given the dismal electoral positioning of amman its good that there is activism of any sort from the capitol. given the background of some ammani, and how people, from all side, intimidated them into avoiding public participation it’s amazing that they are able to overcome “the fear”. while it might sound elitist but infact its more selfish and thats the way activism should be, because if you care about everyone elses’ need you will always be told that the change you want is unimportant and it can wait.

  • the issue of dividing a community geographically is some what common around the world. in the US every city has the “west side” or the “east side”. as society evolves, barriers rise and the biggest one is wealth. as for growth in activism, that is normal since Jordan as a whole is opening up more and more to the world with all the bad that could come with it or the good such as this case. i think Amman is doing much better than its counter parts in the middle east. i think there is some genuine sense of responsibility that some people have and they are acting on it. that is great. it is normal to see the more educated, middle or upper class being active socially. regardless of their intentions, if the result is good then so be it. finally, yes there has been many “revolutions” in history led by the poor and disfranchised and those were mostly bloody. therefor, activism of the “yuppis” suits me better.

  • Natalia, please i need some wisdom around here ,i checked your history long time ago, and i have not read one word that the ressusan revelution strarted by the cronies of the Tzar or flithy rich

  • its an off-topic, so sorry about that, but i saw this today in the newspaper and absolutly cracked up lol

    * ابدى رئيس الوزراء المهندس نادر الذهبي اهتمامه بالطالب بشار مأمون البطوش من بلدة الطيبة الذي اخترع نظريات جديدة في الرياضيات والكيمياء ووعد اهالي الطيبة الذين التقاهم بالامس بتبني هذا الطالب ودعمه وتوفير الظروف الملائمة له لمواصلة ابداعاته مستقبلا .

    haha i can see the poor kid getting a box of cholocates and a fake medal, pictured in front of a flag, then gets a call from the national weather center 10 yrs from now to be invited to submit his cv for a potential opportunity lol ya haraaam!

  • natalia allow me to step in and fill in the gaps (i tried to ignore what was said, honest) and correct me if i’m wrong.
    Well regardless of the fact that the french revolution started before the storming of the bastille and that the impetus for storming of the Bastille was the firing of nekar the king’s adviser (can’t get more elitist than that eh ?) When it comes to the russian revolution it is even more clear cut.
    For starters The bolsheviks (majority) were mainly from mainland russia in contrast to the menshiviks(minority) who split off after a disagreement about the role the working class should play and how to best utilize the bourgeois
    While the leaders of the bolshevik revolution might not have been all filthy rich and tsar cronies, they were certainly part of the educated marginal elites of russian society that were oriented to state employment , and lennin is a prime example….. actually in almost all revolutions its the elites that scheme and not the working class (american, english, french, arab) … but we prefer to see the proletarians as something more than pawns 🙂

  • ofcorse those who lead,seize the opportunity standing in front of them…
    but they never make majority!nor the fight the wars…nor it is there blood that falls at battle

  • So reading through, I agree with the blog. Change has to come from within the society- that is essence of most successful movements. The people who seek change know what they want and they know what they need. But sometimes a party needs to empowers them- give them new options and more importantly new resources.

    But I am surprised that no one seems to recognize grassroot organizations that do do just that. For example, I think The Zikra Initiative is a fantastic framework for the type of social activism the blog is talking about. It is a solid answer to the question the blog posed, ““how we can help them do whatever it is they want to do or are already doing, better.”

    The Zikra Initiative empowers people in the local community through an exchange concept, where domestic and international tourists visit a local community in Jordan (in the current case, Ghor al Mazra’a, a poverty pocket. Visitors provide a nominal fee for the tour that cumulatively funds a microloan program for a local family and in return the members of the Ghor al Mazra’a provide workshops from their heritage and community. The trip allows the visitors to meet the local community, experience their lifestyle, learn local crafts as well as interact and listen to their stories and social problems (if inquired). The visitors end up learning about the needs and lifestyle of the local community rather than imposing a specific change. Since its launch it has had over a thousand visitors and twenty families in al Ghor with microloans.

    Other “exchanges” is through workshops such as The Development Through Art Workshops where people share their resources and knowledge with the Ghor community so the local community may learn to express themselves and discover new creative career options such as filmmaking/editing, photography, art, music, theatre, etc. The exchange by default is the local community working creatively and communicating their lifestyle and struggles via the arts. By empowering the community creatively, they have created short films that have been screened at film festival worldwide and have a filmmaking team.

    So the Zikra Initiative simply gives the community resources to strengthen itself in a dignified and progressive manner.

    The result is bridging social gaps and shattering stereotypes on both sides, thus easing ethnic and social friction and leading to a harmonious peaceful society. It also empowers the local community to self-reflect, discover its strengths, and take charge while at the same time it gives the visitors an opportunity to discover how they can help that local community reach its goals.

  • Maybe there is another way of looking at this west / east divide?
    I come from Europe – and was an activist in the late 1960s and then through the 1970s.. In fact I still think of myself as an activist now.
    For me. the turning point was when I realized that it was NOT about middle class ‘do-gooders’ .. and ‘helping the poor’ – but about speaking out and claiming the right for myself to live a fulfilled life (ie the personal is political)
    So I fought for MY right to express my own sexuality, MY right to equal pay and conditions, MY right to walk through the city without fear of male violence, MY right to be economically independent, MY right to control my own body, MY right to a clean environment etc…
    In so doing, I tried to be inclusive… and fight for the rights of other women… but the drive was that I wanted this for myself. Powerful middle class women stood up in public and stated: I have had an illegal abortion… change the law so all women have the right to choose. Because they wanted that right for themselves.

    Middle class men fought for THEIR right NOT to be forced to be the breadwinner, the provider, not to take the boring job, yes to have the right to stay at home with kids, yes to be musicians rather than follow their fathers into business. And powerful middle class men came out as gay… and advocated against the laws that criminalized homosexuality.

    That’s how laws were changed – and this created a platform for all men and women to make choices (regardless of class).

    Along with other activists, we also asserted our right to live independently from our parents (and did so). We made a major effort to exit the consumer society – to live cheaply, to use public transport, to wear secondhand clothes, share our living space, live communally, make our own entertainment… WE chose jobs that were lower paid but maybe more rewarding – or that gave us free time to do what we really wanted. Most of my generation worked part time as street sweepers, waiters, in kitchens, as maids in hotels, cleaners etc etc. – and so we added our voice to unions claims for better pay and conditions (and to recognize that ALL work is valuable, and that ALL workers should be treated with dignity).

    We were willing to give up the some of the rights and privilege of middle class life in order to have real choices in life. That in no way diminishes the role of working class / marginalized men and women in these movements. But it emphasizes that solidarity / collective action works really well when you empathize with ‘the other’ based on a recognition of your shared situation: Personal liberation movements unite people from across diverse social groups.

    The gains from these movements in Europe? It’s there in the legal framework expanded significantly since the 1970s…
    • Equal opportunities – and a legal framework to enforce them
    • Equal pay for equal work
    • Union rights – freedom of association
    • Paid paternity leave
    • Right to free contraception
    • Right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy
    • Criminalization of rape within marriage
    • Networks of shelters for victims of violence
    • Zero tolerance policies against domestic violence
    • End to criminalization of homosexual practices
    • Gay, lesbian and transgender rights
    • The list goes on….. the movements continue

    Is the European path the right one for Jordan? I have no idea.. that’s for the people of Jordan to choose.
    But what i do believe is that, when you fight for your OWN rights – and when you recognise this claim as the basis for the rights of others – then it’s far more self sustaining. Then you don’t need to be paid to advocate, you don’t need foreign funding, you don’t need to join the (compromised) NGO project… you do it because you believe and you want it for yourself. And then you keep doing it all your life. As I intend to do.

  • To segregate people based on the names of the neighborhoods they live in, let alone the perceived dichotomy in the issues important to them, is pretty naive when it comes to the whole East Amman/West Amman dichotomy, let alone for Amman/”governorates”. The issues that are important to people in “East Amman” and outside Amman can no way be logically specific to their areas n and irrelevant to the average West Ammani!
    Take for example the latest issue – Per diem workers in Aqaba ports. Yes they went on strike because the ports corporation would not compensate them for the housing they are being forced out of becauase they are “informal workers” and their were protesting for their right to reasonable compensation. I was mad not just for the number of Per Diem workers, but of the government and the policies and the illegal evictions they have been carrying out for the private sector. A couple of days after the strike started, around 1000 special forces (Darak) attacked the demonstrators and really beat the hell out of them. Again, while this was all going on in Aqaba to Per Diem workers at Aqaba ports, this issue is very personal to me; it threatens my sense of safety in my community, my freedom to express myself and defend what’s mine. The issues throughout Jordan different localities are the same, the only things that differ is the direct application of the injustice we all face to cases more relevant to specific areas. As an activist, I am responsible to mobilize people. When I drive 15 minutes to get to East Amman, it’s not because I am more privileged and would like to give my being some sort of higher value, but because I want to sit with like-minded individuals who need to do something and act on their cases.

  • before i become judgmental because you threw the “i’m an activist” rhetoric sab7a read what old hippie said, there is wisdom in her comment that you might benefit from because while i think you were genuinely emphatic towards the port people it wasn’t an issue that kept you up all night.

  • You sound more bitter than constructive.

    You are trying to portray Jordanian grassroots activism as some sort of an elitist enterprise imposed from above. That’s grossly unfair. Grassroots work is voluntary for the organizers and the communities who benefit from it. If the communities on the receiving ends don’t want it, they ignore it. If they can benefit from it, they participate. The equation is simple. the nature of giving involves the haves on one end and the have-nots on the other. Unless you know of other models we are not aware off. the poor don’t give the poor. the uneducated don’t educate. the sick don’t heal the sick.

    instead of trying to undermine the little grassroots activism that we have in Jordan, you should help nurture it. you ou should be grateful it exists.

    You are advised to drop your bitter attitude and let those few dedicated souls do their work. Most volunteers don’t want your gratitude. But the last thing they want to hear, on top of their selfless work, is your bitter attacks. Very selfish.

    This is by far your worst column. Sometimes you should know when to keep it to yourself.

Your Two Piasters: