Sign of Thyme & Friends in Concert this Sunday

Posted on: November 29th, 2007 by Lina No Comments

After the successful release of their second album “Zad” last September, Jordanian band Sign of Thyme will be performing in a live concert on Sunday December 2nd, 2007, alongside guest musicians Aziz Maraqa on Piano, Yazan Roussan on Percussions, and Nabih Boulos on Violin.

The show will feature new works besides songs from their album Zad, which includes rearrangements of famous and/or important pieces of music ranging from Egyptian masterpieces to jazz standards to pieces from Turkey and Tunisia, as well as originals composed by the band members.

The core of the band consists of the trio Yacoub Abu Ghosh on Bass Guitar, Ahmad Barakat on Oud, and Nasser Salameh on Percussions.

The concert will take place at the Terra Sancta Theater in Jebal Luweibdeh, at 8:00 pm. Tickets are for 5JDs, sold at the door.

AmmanNet Refused Permit in Zarqa

Posted on: November 29th, 2007 by Ramsey 5 Comments

Ahmad Humeid first published this press release on his blog about AmmanNet being refused a permit to open a new community radio station in Zarqa. While details seem sketchy as to why the permit was rejected, we join Daoud Kuttab’s call for the new governmental cabinet to reverse this rejection of a community-based media outlet in Jordan. We also join calls for a transparent process and a full investigation. The press release from AmmanNet is published below:

The government rejected a petition to grant a local radio license for the third biggest city of Jordan, Zarqa. In one of its last decision the outgoing Jordanian cabinet rejected the application by AmmanNet to set up a community radio station that will not broadcast news or politics.

This is the first known case in which a radio license has been rejected in Jordan since the deregulation of airwaves allowing for private ownership.

No explanation was included in the November 13th decision of the outgoing Bakhit cabinet which rejected the request based on clause 18.b of the Jordanian audio visual law. That clause states “The Council of Ministers may refuse to grant broadcasting licenses to any entity without stating the reasons for such rejection.”

Daoud Kuttab founder and director of AmmanNet called the decision an indirect punishment to the people of Zarqa. “With so many radio licenses in the capital, we expected the Jordanian government to support rather than reject a radio license that will offer public broadcasting to community services-deprived Zarqa. “ Kuttab says that an advisory board made up of community leaders was assembled, a studio space was rented in downtown Zarqa and equipment for the station was ordered. “At a time that Jordan is encouraging independent community-based media, this unexplained decision surprised us, “ he said.

Kuttab called on the newly appointed prime minister to reverse the decision. He also called on the newly elected parliament to revise the Audio Visual Law in a way to make the distribution of radio frequencies a more transparent affair. AmmanNet’s founder also called on the Higher Media Council to act quickly to ensure the respect of the audio visual regulatory process.

AmmanNet said that all the technical requirement for the station were assembled to the satisfaction of the relevant Jordanian regulators. The station reaffirmed its commitment to the people of Zarqa and called on the government to explain why the cabinet chose to reject our request, so that it can correct them.

Less Talk, More Walk: The Abraham Path Comes to Jordan

Posted on: November 24th, 2007 by Ramsey No Comments

mahmoud chatting

“In my opinion, the olive tree is the symbol of peace. The trees are as old as time, and are absolutely delightful; you can walk around it smell it and rest under it. To the people, they are everything.” – Mahmoud Twaissi, Mapping Coordinator, Abraham Path Initiative

A project to create a path that connects many of the places and paths that Abraham once traveled; an ambitious and provocative project that hopes to bring the peoples of the world around a uniting piece of history: Abraham himself. (more…)

Election Watch | Post Election Coverage

Posted on: November 21st, 2007 by Lina 13 Comments

The elections are over, (most of) the votes have been counted, the winners announced, and the morning papers are aflutter with post-election coverage. Here’s a rundown of some of yesterday’s highlights as relayed by the local media and Jordanian bloggers:

Despite the gloomy and rainy weather, voter turnout as of today, stood at around 55%, representing just over half of Jordan’s 2.4 million eligible voters. Of previous MPs, 29 kept their seats. Preliminary results breaking down turnout, seats, and number of candidates can be viewed here and here (arabic).

The Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, cried foul, pointing to vote-buying and the government’s inability (or unwillingness) to stop it, as signs of voter fraud. Nevertheless, the IAF suffered a disappointing loss as a party, with only 7 of its 22 candidates managing a win. However, Wihdat camp residents retain a lot of support for the party.

Meanwhile, candidates transported their constituents to the polls but forgot to drive them back, while bulk SMS messages swept through the Kingdom’s cell phone users throughout the day, asking voters to vote for a specific candidate, with volume increasing as the polls neared their closing time. In another phenomenon, many of Jordan’s youth could be found supporting candidates by distributing leaflets outside the polling stations. In a Jordan Times article many said they would be breaking with tradition and voting for a non-family member.

Women:

About 199 women ran for a seat out of a total of 885 candidates, which is much higher than the 54 out of 765 candidates running in the 2003 elections. Falak Jumani, won a seat in Parliament with 3,301 votes, making her the first woman to do so outside the women’s quota and pushing the number of women under the dome to 7. The remaining 6 were filled through the women’s quota as no female candidate garnered enough votes. Those seats were distributed amongst Tafilah, Balqa, Kerak and Zarqa Governorates, with surprisingly none from Amman.

QUOTABLE: Several women in the camp who cast their ballots in a nearby polling centre said their choice of candidate was decided by their husbands.

“I do not know anything about the election, but my husband told me to elect Hamzah Mansour and so I did,” said Um Mohammad, a housewife and mother of four. “Would I dare to elect someone other than the person my husband told me to? He would divorce me if he knew I voted for someone else,” her neighbour Um Hosam told The Jordan Times. [source]

One report indicates that two bus loads of 50 women were prevented from voting in the rural Jiza region. While their voting district was printed on their national IDs, the computer couldn’t find their names registered in the system. The women drove around to other polling venues to see if they could find a loophole in the system.

Meanwhile, in Kerak, which saw a 68% voter turnout, Al-Ghad reports that women in the governate went against their husbands’ wishes and voted for the candidate of their own choice.

Corruption:

Eid Al-Fayez, the Interior Minister, announced the uncovering of several vote-buying incidents in the Kingdom. However it seems a lot of vote-buying took place yesterday, especially in the poorer and rural areas, with some votes going for as high as 200JDs. One incident even saw the son of an ex member of parliament being funded by his brother. Al-Ghad is calling it the “The Election Bourse”, reviewing the phenomenon of candidates even promising everything from money to food and gas heaters for the winter, in return for a vote.

One fight broke out in Madaba between supporters of two candidates, resulting in the destruction of 5 cars but no one was hurt.

QUOTABLE: “After hearing Khaled Abu Al Ghanam speak and learning his agenda, I was persuaded that he really cared about my generation’s issues,” a 24-year-old supporter told The Jordan Times.

When asked when he started supporting the candidate, he shrugged.

“He’s my uncle, I’ve known him all my life,” he noted. [source]

Jordanian Bloggers:

Firas is wondering why candidates who were caught in the act of voter fraud, not prosecuted, or at the very least, disqualified with their names made public. Adel has his own snapshots of the elections. Meanwhile, Batir, Ahmad, Khalaf, Ola and Naseem share their voting experiences. Issam and Mohannad wonder if the golden days of the IAF party are over. Batir feels the parliament has now been handed over, as always, to business men and tribal leaders.

*this post will be updated as developments ensue.