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Qalaq: Should we pursue a uniform code of national morality?

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

For those who missed the story, there was a large party for youth at a well-known outdoor restaurant in Amman based in themes from popular online games. The party, open to both sexes, also provided food and music. Reportedly, the party got out of hand and “unacceptable” behaviour was witnessed between young men and women who broke established social norms. More seriously, there were reported cases of sexual harassment, involving both boys and young women.

After a public furore, the Ministry of Interior apprehended key organisers and some of the restaurant managers to follow up on the complaints. The main narrative around this party is the degeneration of the moral values within the circles of westernised and financially-privileged youth and their parents. Dirty dancing, drinking, inappropriate clothing, intolerable mixing between the sexes, loud western music, immorality, irresponsibility, absence of religious and cultural markers.

The clear recommendation was that it was the duty of the police to monitor and protect the morals and behaviour of Jordanian society and ensure the cultural and religious integrity of the country, using the force of the security apparatus and the law.

I beg to differ. Of course, I am not denying the necessary police role in protecting victims of sexual harassment and their duty to pursue all complaints and take the case to court if there is any suspicion of a crime or infringement on the space or body of another person. That security and judicial role must be safeguarded and confirmed.

But, my firm belief is that it has to be done without a subjective moral compass or judgement on the victim, his or her “moral” behaviour or the morality of the event as a whole. We also cannot impose a moral framework that favours the lifestyle of some pockets, large as those may be, in society and allow those to dictate the choices of another.

The judgement of parents or youth on whether they should partake in a mixed party that allows dancing, music and alcohol for adults should never be handed over to the subjective judgement of individuals within the police or even the society at large. This decision falls within the parameters of personal freedom if only because we are not, nor should we be, a homogenous society with full consensus on sanctioned or moral behaviour for men, women and children. We all live within our smaller contexts and are governed by our own subjective choices.

And in order to put this into a larger context than just partying, dancing or even drinking. The sad and unnecessary death last week of a child attacked by angry individuals from a wedding party convoy that crossed paths with the car of the child’s father, has also poseda morality question for Jordanians. Many were upset over the unnecessary violence of the incident, and perhaps because they felt that their lifestyle was under attack by critics of the Qalaq party, linked the two incidents on social media and argued that we should “worry more” about the “morality” of people who behave with a sense of absolute entitlement to pursue their traditions, regardless of how it hurts others in their path. That, they argue, is a more clear and urgent moral rule for the police to pursue than hounding partygoers and dancers.

I believe that the second case has a clearer justification for rallying collective acceptance of the “moral” argument behind it because I doubt many Jordanians disagree that wedding convoys disrupting roads or shooting in weddings are a “moral” choice, but still there had been a few voices rejecting this rationale and refusing to link what they see as a single case of misjudgement and violence by a single or group of individuals to the “moral” framework of continuing to follow traditional practices on such occasions. 

And as these two cases show, obviously to varying degrees, there are citizens who fall on both sides of each argument when it comes to so-called “moral” questions. And of course, these two cases are only relevant as indicators of much larger national-level dilemmas, including some which are political in nature, that our citizen grapples with and tries to answer.

It begs the question: Can we ask citizens of the Jordanian state, who we all agree do share common characteristics or standards that could even be described as shared morals, to adhere to a standard of “national morality” that can be enforced on all?

And even more specifically, would this standard refer to the requirements of citizenship within a nation state and, therefore, code of conduct to govern the relationship between citizen and state or will it refer to imposed standards of individual behaviour that can be enforced through state apparatus as some would want us to think. 

And I think that the resolution of this question must be reached if we are going to build cohesion between the different population pockets in Jordan or even find harmony between the state and citizen. 

But this state cannot be reached without a national dialogue that also looks at our national vision on inclusion, acceptance of diversity, respect for individual choices and freedoms. The dialogue must scrutinise the validity of the source of our moral guidance for this national morality code.

We need to ask ourselves and reflect honestly upon whether we as citizens are “morally” informed by the constitution, national interest as a state, religion, considerations of personal gain or the historically accepted “social contract” provisions.

 

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Comments

TO POST MY VIEWS ABOUT NERMEEN'S ARTICLE, I MUST FIRST DISECT WHAT ALICE BARNES HAS POSTED IN RESPONSE TO THE SAME ARTICLE. FIRST, NERMEEN NEVER SAID OR CALLED FOR THE ELIMINATION OF ANY RELIGION NEVER MIND ALL RELIGIONS.
NEVER SAID THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO MORAL VALUES. NEVER SAID THAT DRINKING BY MINOR AND / OR SMOKING IS A GOOD
MORAL VALUE BUT AT THE SAME TIME SHE MADE HER POINT CLEAR THAT THE ISSUE IS NOT MORAL VALUES IN ANY SOCIETY FOR THAT MATTER BUT WHO SHOULD REGULATE IT. WHAT ALICE POSTED REMINDS ME OF OUR EVANGELICAL " HYPOCHRISTIANS " IN USA THAT CLOSES THEIR EYES TO ALL KINDS OF ATROCITIES BUT STRATIFY AND LATCH ON TO A POLICE-STATE MENTALITY OF RACISM, ISLAMOPHOBIA, GUN-BOAT DIPLOMACY, CLOSES ITS EYES ON GENDER BASHING AND ENGAGE IN THE POLITICS OF STRATIFICATION, XENOPHOBIA AND WISHY-WASHY USE OF GOD'S NAME IN VEIN. THE ARTICLE BY ALICE REMINDS ME OF OUR
POLITICS TODAY IN USA WHERE WE USE RELIGION WHEN WE WANT TO DIVID AND RULE AND STOKE FEAR/PANIC IN AN OTHERWISE
A MODERN ADVANCE NATION WHERE WE HAVE THE SEPERATION OF POWERS. I AM SURE THAT THE ARTICLE BY ALICE WILL STOKE FEAR AND PANIC TO MANY IN THE ARAB WORLD THAT SOME ONE IS COMMING TO INTERFERE AND TAKE AWAY THEIR RELION AND PREVENT THE GOVERNMENT FROM REGULATING MORALITY, GENDER RULES AND ROLES AS PRESCRIBED BY WHATEVER RELIGION HE OR SHE CHOOSES. THIS VIEWS REMINDS ME OF THE GOSLES AS WRITTEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT VS NEW TESTAMENT. HERE ARE THE REASON(S) WHY NERMEEN IS 100% CORRECT AND THAT ALICE IS NOT ONLY WRONG BUT ALSO PROMOTING THE USE OF RELIOUS POLICE AND POLICE STATE.
YES, I AGREE THAT " THAT MAN IS A MAN IN A SOCIETY AND THAT MAN OUTSIDE ANY SOCIETY IS EITHER A BEAST OR A GOD ". I ALSO HYPOTHETICALLY AGREE THAT THE BEHAVIOR OF A CHILD IS A FUNCTION OF HIS/OR ENVIRONMENT BUT TIME CHANGES EVERYTHING EVEN AMONG THE HARD LINERS WHO THOUGHT THAT WOMEN CAN NOT BE PILOTS, CAN NOT DRIVE, SHOULD NOT WEAR PANT, SHOULD NOT BE EDUCATED, SHOULD NOT BE ELECTED INTO ANY BUBLIC OFFICES, THAT ALL WOMEN SHALL COVER UP FROM HAIR TO TOES, BE SUBJECTED TO THEIR MASTERS AND ONLY TO BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD OFF. TODAY WE HAVE THE INFORMATION SUPER HIGHWAYS THROUGH DIFFERENT TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES AND YET NONE IS MADE FOR GIRLS ONLY, MUSLIMS ONLY, WHITE MALES ONY, JEWISH PEOPLE ONLY CHRISTIANS ONLY OR THE POPE AND BISHOPS. THE QUESTION IS NOT MORALITY BUT WHO REGULATES IT, WHERE AND HOW. CONSIDER IF WE REGULATE OUR COUNTRY TODAY AS ONLY A CHRISTIAN NATION AND USE A SIGNIFICANT PART OF OUR NATIONAL BURDGET TO BUILD CHURCHES AND FUND THE OPPERATIONS, WHAT WILL THE NON CHRISTIANS DO GIVEN THE FACT THAT THEY ALSO LIVE AMONG US AND PAY TAXES? IS THIS THE BEST WAY TO REGULATE MORALITY?. JORDAN IS NOT JUST ANOTHER ARAB WORLD RULED AND CONTROLLED BY THE RELIGIOUS POLICE MEN BUT A DEVELOPING COUNTRY THAT IS AT LEAST OPEN TO THE WORLD AND WANTS TO PLAY BY THE INTERNATIONAL STANDARD. ALICE POSTING REMINDS ME OF WHAT OUR PRESIDENT SAID AT THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY THAT, QUOTE" EVERY COUNTRY HAS THE RIGHT TO DO AS IT WISHES IN THEIR COUNTRY WHICH IMPLIES THAT THOSE WHO OWN AND STILL KEEPS SLAVES HAS THE RIGHTS TO DO SO, THOSE WHO REPRESS WOMEN CAN CONTINUE BECAUSE THE INTERNATIONAL LAWS SHOULD BE RIPPED APART. IN SUMMARY, THE JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT HAS A LOTS OF THINGS IN THEIR PLATE TO DO AND SHOULD NOT CONFUSE THINGS BY HANGING AROUND BOYS AND GIRLS , CHECKING OUT THEIR DRESSES AND PANTS TO ENSURE THAT NO FLESH IS SEEN, NO DANCING, NO PARTY, NO CO-EDUCATION, NO HAPPINESS BUT PRAYING ALL DAY WITH BIBLE OR BOOKS THAT THEIR FAITH CHOOSES. FOR NOW, LET US ALL LEAVE MORALITY ALONE AS THE FUNCTION OF FAMILY DYNAMICS THAT SHOULD NOT BE REGULATED BY ANY FANATIC POLICE STATE. I DO NOT THINK THAT JORDANIANS WILL TOLORATE THIS. WE HAVE LOTS OF PROBLEMS IN JORDAN SO LET US NOT CONFUSE ISSUES UNLESS SUCH ISSUES CROSES THE LEGAL RED LINES. GO OUT AND HARASS THE SCAMERS, ILLIGAL TOBACCO PRODUCERS, OFFICES THAT DO NOT FUNCTION, WASTA METHODS OF PROMOTION, AND OTHER PUBLIC POLICIES THAT RUNS ON STEROIDS AND MANAGEMENT BY " IBM "

This kind of behavior would be against the law even in the so called bastion of democracy, the US. What is evident is that the writer doesn't really care about the morals and values of this society, which every society has, but rather, she is calling for the elimination of all forms of religion.
Every religion, like societies, has its code of morals and values which, when analyzed carefully, stem from their religion, regardless of which religion one follows. Therefore, to state that we should be tolerant of this kind of behavior and others like it, is a rejection of religion. No decent person, who has any kind of religion would believe this was acceptable behavior. The minority who are calling for this debased standard for society will never succeed.

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