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Road rage and the Jahiliyya

Sep 30,2018 - Last updated at Sep 30,2018

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) who wrote that human life outside society would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, had clearly never driven between Amman and Mafraq. Had he done so, he would realise that the life of a Jordanian today, within society, can be equally solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

This, according to reports, was the experience of a Jordanian citizen who attempted this journey a week ago on the afternoon of Thursday 20th. His trip was extended endlessly by a motorcade celebrating a wedding, which blocked all lanes on the highway and was moving at a snail’s pace. When the traveller finally overtook the motorcade, this offended some revelers who chased him and tried to run him off the road.

Afraid for his safety, the man drove to a stationary police patrol seeking protection. This was an act of the purest optimism because his pursuers caught up with him and proceeded to smash up his car, along with the skull of his 3-year old son, who died from his injuries. The policemen present did not shirk their duty, of course. They filmed the whole incident. 

The mainstream media saw nothing newsworthy in a case of assault and grievous bodily harm committed in broad daylight and in full view of the police. I only learned about it from following the Facebook posts of my friend Batir Wardam. 

Only after enough writers on the social media made a brouhaha did the mainstream media carry a statement from the police spokesperson that the culprits have been rounded up.  

It is a very sad comment on the society we live in that only a few social media commentators found anything wrong in this incident. 

Seriously, why was there not a single statement from a single imam condemning the assault? If they do not think that the murder of a three-year-old child is worth a mention in their sermons on two consecutive Fridays, what do they think their function in society is?

Tribal sheikhs, parliamentarians and all social notables are probably in no doubt what their function is: to ensure that the culprits go unpunished. They will mobilise themselves in great delegations to persuade the aggrieved family to rescind their personal rights against their assailants, then to accept blood money for their loss, and finally to haggle down the payment of blood money so as not to overburden the assailants’ tribe. 

Out of 130 deputies and half as many senators, there was not one statement suggesting that any of them disapproved of what happened. 

This, now, is an important test for the whole system of government. Every cabinet, on taking office, assures the public that this time, things will be done right, and the public suppresses a yawn and changes the channel. With the present government, the public allowed itself to hope beyond hope that the promise may be sincere. We wait to see if the government will have the courage to stand up to tribal custom and ensure that justice is served.

 

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Comments

I agree with writer that everyone should be outraged for the killing of an infant and no one should above the law. The groom and his family should be sued and the gang of thugs should all be jailed and trialed.

I don't agree with title due to that during the Jahiliyya, there was freedom of speech and religion, and there was customs and rules that everyone followed.

I'm borderline speechless reading this article, how can such an incident go almost unreported, where is the National outcry, an innocent 3yr old was viciously attacked by a baying mob and, consequently, died of his injuries. Where is the Royal Court on this? This is a stain on Jordan if justice is not served here, in all my years living and working in Jordan, this depresses me to the core.

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