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Alleged discrimination against members with disabilities at gym sparks outrage

By Johanna Montanari - Sep 02,2019 - Last updated at Sep 02,2019

AMMAN — Last Thursday, Aseel Dib took to Facebook to rally against a gym in Amman that allegedly terminated the membership of her older brother, Bassel, who has Down Syndrome, reportedly for the reason that the management did not want people with disabilities working out at the gym, a claim refuted by the institution.

“I was not only furious, but shocked,” she wrote in a Facebook post, adding that her brother “touches everyone’s heart with his smile and bubbly personality”.

Dib published the story only after hearing about another alleged incident in the same gym.

Ahmed Hwa took to Facebook on August 24 after his sister’s membership at the gym was reportedly discontinued.

“She doesn't know how to talk and instead utters sounds that only I and the rest of my family understand,” he wrote, adding that apparently the gym had received complaints from some members and hence decided to terminate her membership.

However, Hwa criticised the gym for its alleged decision, saying “my sister did not break any gym policies and all she did was try to communicate publicly with my mother through her unique sounds”.

Hwa later also said that the gym management had allegedly threatened not to return his refund due to his Facebook post and did not apologise to him or his family.

Jordanian social media users have called for boycotting the gym as a result. 

“I’m sorry that there are such people living among us with bitter souls and dark hearts. There is no difference between us, we are all human beings,” one Facebook user wrote.

Responding to allegations, the gym issued a statement on its Facebook page “strongly denouncing the spread of rumours”.

“We proudly host all members of society, including people with disabilities, as part of our belief that they are an important part of society, having equal rights,” read the post.

The gym management refuted the allegations and vowed to take legal action.

The Jordan Times tried to contact the gym in question, but the gym management refused to comment on the issue.

Jordan has laws against discrimination towards people with disabilities. 

The Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was established 2007 and is a public institution headed by HH Prince Mired that is working towards a “society in which people with disabilities have a decent and sustainable life that will grant them effective participation based on equity and equality”, according to its website.

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