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Government’s role in effecting changes

Jun 19,2017 - Last updated at Jun 19,2017

Any process of change requires a strategic plan with clear visions, objectives and action plan.

When it comes to sensitive issues like cultural change and de-radicalisation, the process must also include insights into latent and hidden risks, not just the obvious ones.

Protecting pluralism, rights of individuals and, above all, the liberty of citizens is becoming of increased concern in Jordan.

Recently, we have seen several incidents that demonstrate lack of any progressive vision to protect pluralism, diversity or even personal liberties.

This situation requires a prompt and decisive government intervention.

Recently, in Jordan, there has been a growing trend of protests on social media, guided by some groups that attempt to impose their thoughts on others.

Some of the campaigns that have been run, and won, ended up in banned concerts and movies, as well as in condemnation of particular people.

The idea of organised campaigns is not the issue here; the real problem is that the government is blackmailed by these vocal minorities and enacts their wishes, over the wishes of the majority.

Recently reported have also been incidents where the police punished those who do not fast during Ramadan, regardless of their situation.

It is of great concern that anyone, let alone the police, believe that “divine law” overrules the law of the state.

It is a real problem for the society if the police believe they can enforce religious law according to their interpretation of it.

We are a country where the laws of the state, as enforced by the police and upheld by the judiciary, are the only laws that apply to all.

This is a national security issue and it serves as a reminder of the tragic assassination of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar last year.

These groups do not represent all Jordanians. They are a vocal minority, and our silence creates the impression that they are representative of the majority. 

The government should be the protector of the people’s rights and liberties. Unfortunately, we are seeing incidents where the government and its representatives do not demonstrate an understanding of the importance of protecting pluralism.

On some occasions, the government’s actions suggested they do not even understand the issue of radicalisation.

This is dangerous for our society, both for our culture and for its security.

In 1993, Zarqa, a town famous for its many cinemas, was subject to a terrorist attack planned by Zarqawi.

The government response focused on security, and terrorists were arrested.

There was no plan or response to protect the cultural movement by building more cinemas or declaring that they were safe.

Today there are no cinemas in Zarqa. The terrorists have clearly achieved their goal in this town.

We must maintain physical security, but we must also fiercely protect our culture, our rights, our very way of life. 

While the role of the state and its laws is to protect diversity and personal liberties, it must also prevent the exploitation of religion and the reinterpretation of history and traditions by certain groups to suit their ideology and brainwash their followers.

This can only be achieved with a clear understanding of the nature of change, long-term vision, political determination and daily actions.

 

If any of these elements is missing, the process of change, or even protecting the current status quo, will not be possible.

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Comments

Although the government has it is share, I am not sure if the blame goes to the government only in this case. Frankly, radicalism in our society is a reflection of ideologies that are not limited to islamists, but also nationalists, Arab nationalists, communists, other ideologies common among the various groups represented in the Palestinian Liberation Movement, and the attitudes of the government security apparatus in dealing with these ideologies. Add to that tribalism and the amazing levels of corruption along with inequality, and you end up with the conditions we are facing today. Unfortunately, there are no quick solutions for such complex problem. However, a good start is to require all the groups that represent the various ideologies to commit to democracy, pluralism, and accepting the other groups if they want to be part of the political process. In the meantime, the government and judicial must guarantee and enforce this approach on all groups.

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