Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jordan follows suit, kind of

Since there are many news stories coming out of the Middle East right now--most of them more worthy of international concern than news from Jordan--it's quite possible that you haven't read about the recent escalation of demonstrations in Amman.
pro-government supporters at diwar dakhliyah around midnight last night
You can read the stories on the New York Times website, BBC, or Al Jazeera.  Long story short:  a number of youth groups united under the banner of 'Youth of the 24th of March' and staged a sit-in last Thursday in a traffic circle and critical intersection in Amman.  The protestors stayed there all night, despite government supporters throwing stones.

The next day, most of the streets leading to Diwar Dakhliyah (or Gamel Abdul Nasser Circle, according to the maps) were shut down, greatly inhibiting movement around the city.  Later that afternoon and evening, over a hundred were injured and two men were reported killed.  Apparently the government has only confirmed one fatality, and the cause of death by heart attack.  Other sources (like my host brother and facebook) insist that he was a protestor beaten to death.  His funeral will happen as soon as the family receives an actual cause of death from the government.

During his Friday sermon, my host father went to unprecedented lengths of intensity in criticism of the government. He called for the dissolution of the Parliament and support for the protestors.  He did, however, state that he disagrees with the choice of location for the protests.  Because the circle is at such a crucial intersection, action around it completely shuts down traffic in much of the city, only exacerbated by police response.  Thus, staging a demonstration in this location seems to directly incite conflict and clashes with the government as people get fed up with traffic disturbances.
police cars parked inside the circle, blocking traffic
Last night when I returned from a friend's house, my taxi driver decided that the best way home (it was the most direct) would be through the newly-opened Diwar Dakhliyah.  It took us thirty minutes to go a quarter mile, and when we entered the circle, now filled with police and government supporters celebrating the 'victory', the driver put in a CD of Jordanian nationalistic music and turned the volume up all the way.  As we came slowly around the circle I was able to take these pictures.

So now--I'm safe, and will continue to be.  My program is taking extra precautions.  I plan on carrying a copy of my passport with me at all times, just in case.  From what I have heard, the Parliament may be dissolved in next few weeks or months.  This does not mean what it would mean in America.  It happened fairly recently in Jordan, and there was no subsequent state of anarchy or anything.  But keep reading the news.
the pedestrian area inside the circle
scary riot cops

1 comment:

  1. balllmer! glad you are not dead or someshit. we have parliment in ameircaz?

    --love long time hale