Jordan: oppressed or paranoid?

In every Jordanian’s life, there’s a common monster behind the bushes. Ever since we start our journey into adulthood and perhaps well before that, we hear several stories and warnings to avoid being caught by that vague, notorious entity. Don’t talk about this, turn a blind eye to this and a deaf ear to that, and God forbid that you should ever come across a protest; in that case it’s the Lion King’s policy and none other than that. Run, Simba, run! Yes, every Jordanian, male or female, young or old, has at some point been haunted by their own idea of the notorious, mystical, ever feared Mukhabarat.

First, I feel that I have to make something clear here. I’m in no way trying to mock or underestimate the work of the General Intelligence Service aka Mukhabarat, for God knows how many bombings those people have stopped, they are one big reason we could feel safe after the Amman bombings in 2005. They’re pretty cool actually, have you seen that movie “Body of Lies”? Heck! They made it look as though the Secret Intelligence is the only good thing about Jordan. Seriously, they had a general shot of Jabal Al-Hussein where you could see a donkey pulling a carriage, but the Mukhabarat men kicked some CIA behinds though! In your face, Dicaprio.

Any how, my concern here is not with Mukhabarat, but rather with how Jordanians see Mukhabarat. Seriously, sometimes it’s absurd. For example, if you have a Facebook status critical of anything about the government people might start hinting that you’re going to face some nasty consequences. Honestly, I think that’s an insult to Mukhabarat itself, for I personally believe these are busy people who certainly have better things to do than monitoring a Facebook profile of a girl who once had Judy Abbot as a profile picture and a blog that gets 100 to 150 hits a day, and that’s on a good day. Let’s face it, people! There’s a reason those people are called “the Intelligence”, they are not stupid! They know who’s a threat to the stability of the country and who’s not.

What I’m trying to say here is that those are difficult times for our country and we need more than ever to free ourselves from the “Mukhabarat Pobia” that’s been haunting us forever. We are obsessed with this, we imagine that once we say anything or point any fingers at the people who are destroying our country from within we will be taken “behind the sun” and tortured like there’s no tomorrow. They are people doing their job in protecting the country and the throne, which is much needed, we are not their job.

Adding for good measure, let me point out that the current Prime Minister Al-Bakhit has always been an army man and was once a councilor  at Mukhabarat and as we’re seeing now that his government is more open to criticism that the previous one and they are taking positive steps towards freedom of expression. I’d say this is a positive sign that we’re getting on the same page. The government seems to understand that when we speak we’re not trying to undermine the stability of the country or anything; it’s just that we’re ordinary citizens who actually care for their country and feel a responsibility to do something to prevent it from going to the gutters.

We need to speak up, not only you or me but everyone should speak up so that we can build momentum to let our voice be heard, and it’s not just because we want to rant and change governments, but rather because we want the decision makers to get it right and to know what our demands are. And no, we don’t have to have American passports to feel free to express our opinions.

They say you are what you believe, and I don’t believe I am oppressed in this country and I owe it for my country to prove that, and if it isn’t true then I owe it to make it true. I mean come on, at least we haven’t had bloggers put behind bars, yet! That’s encouraging if you ask me

Fears cripples the mind so set your mind free, just to see what could happen… if anything


12 responses

  1. Nice one! I have faith.

    Hopefully this is just the beginning. It would be so good to open the newspaper and read a decent article for once, not the usual diluted recycled crap.
    Or how about getting home without getting stopped by the cops a million times. Even better, to vote! To feel duty bound as a citizen to get educated about politics and local issues because my vote counts!

    That would be the day, huh?

  2. Salam,

    I think it is the other way around, Gov in Jordan are reaching out to citizens specially the youth. I don’t think you should worry about expressing your opinion and I urge you to communicate freely.

    Being critical does not mean you are not loyal, we all love Jordan and want major reforms, all voices should be heard.



  3. not trying to undermine the stability of the country or anything; it’s just that we’re ordinary citizens who actually care for their country and feel a responsibility to do something to prevent it from going to the gutters.

    The statement above is valid and I thank you 4 it.
    Ola, one of the important aspects regarding this issue is the notion of accountability -with every sense of the word- , the generation(s) before us “parents” were oppressed, it was mingled with and I dare to say “by” fear. This was fumed by lack of accountability for malpractices in the work of mo5abarat -again, with full sense of the word- , the generations to come need to have faith, not merely lip-service, in such institiutions. Faith that we do want and CAN make a contribution, we r all in the same “page” , whether I`m wearing a civilian suit or any other.
    If I`m criticising and you don`t want me to, make room for other channels for me, clear ones and let`s get this thing on the go!

    The first few lines of yr 2nd paragraph weren`t needed :), but then again they were! So me too will say that my comment is by no means an attempt to wave the great patriotic works of the mo5abarat. 🙂

    *sorry for the long comment! I try to avoid that usu. !

  4. Actually, I disagree. Just park in your car almost anywhere in Amman, sooner or later undercover agents will come and start questioning you. The only thing you are doing is just sitting there in the car. It’s not the Jordanians who are paranoid, its the intelligence agencies that are.

    I swear to God, once we were just three friends in a car, doing nothing but talking and smoking, and undercover agents thought we were some kind of organized crime, and started questioning us. WTF?!

    I am not sure what they had in mind: Drug smugglers, arms dealers, I dunno, but something big!!

  5. Devil’s mind: what you mentioned doesn’t contradict what I’m talking about. It’s their job to check out any thing that looks even a little suspicious to them, because they can never be too careful, as long as they don’t drag you into custody and grill you for no reason then it’s not really an issue I guess. What I’m talking about however is the irrational fear that prevent people from expressing their opinions and stating the obvious when it comes to corruption and malfunctioning governments

  6. Both affect each other. They keep checking up on people for no good reason, to give them the impression that they are being watched 24/7. It’s a scare tactic in my opinion, not security. They act paranoid to keep people paranoid.

  7. Great post Ola, i do agree with you we shouldnt be afraid and we should speak out more often to help our country develop. most of us having been active about reform on twitter and facebook, and the only misunderstanding or even abuse that we might get is from other paranoid ppl who are either scared or worse trying to get noticed as heroes by authority and the authorities.

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  9. who ever wrote this article is so naive!!! she said”I personally believe these are busy people who certainly have better things to do than monitoring a Facebook profile of a girl”
    I can assure they are only a bunch of ignorant thugs who actually have nothing to do except getting big paychecks for nothing and yes following silly things

    • See? That’s exactly the kind of paranoia that instills fear in people’s minds and prevents them from speaking up. I’m not the biggest fan of Mukhabarat but I do think we have more room for freedom of expression in Jordan than we tend to think

      It’s very passive to keep ranting about corruption and the government while fearing to speak up. You either speak up or keep it to yourself

  10. I have been around and I’ll say that I have never felt safer anywhere in the world as in Amman. There is this unspoken harmony that binds everyone in that small kingdom. During my last visit, I saw a gentleman driving a cab parked in the middle of the street, a traffic blocking act, talking to a police officer. I thought it can’t be anything other than him giving him a ticket or scolding him for doing something wrong, otherwise why would he leave him parked, literally, in the middle of the street. As I have approached the 2 men, it turned out the Cabby was asking for directions and the officer magnanimously offering it to him. I think the officer was so preoccupied in directing the due gentleman that it has totally passed him to ask the gentleman to pull over so not to block traffic. Jordanians have this intrinsic unmatched capacity of just being good people. ALLAH ye7mi Alordun wa Alurdoneen with all its social and ethnic strata.

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