My Experience on March 25

الأربعاء 30 آذار 2011

By Anon

I finally sit here with a black page attempting to write, vent and express my feelings about what happened on March 25th 2011.

My name, doesn’t matter… My religion, origin, faith, political affiliations and beliefs don’t matter. I am a Jordanian, born and raised in this beautiful country.

Throughout the past 25 years I have lived for my country, for my king, patriotic beyond words. My dream has always been to serve my country, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of His Majesty and attend Sandhurst Military Academy and eventually serve and protect under the umbrella of Al Jaish al Arabi, a badge worn with pride by ever soldier and officer in this country. Many ask why, and my reason is patriotism, it is unconditional love for my country, its citizens and its culture. Unfortunately my father didn’t approve of this dream, and so I went on and studied in Montreal, Canada, and worked for four years in Canada in the family business to gain and build a solid experience. But I dropped it all and came back a few months ago – the beautiful apartment, the metropolitan life, the good salary, the solid career path – all in the name of my country, because my country needed me and I no longer wanted to be away from it. Being outside my country went against the patriotism I believed in, it went against my passion.

I came here thinking I am invincible, I wanted to change, create, build, I didn’t want to adhere or cave in to a system that didn’t make sense to me. People told me to accept it, to accept how things work here. I said I didn’t have to. I don’t have to settle for corruption or for being a second class citizen due to my family name, I don’t want to accept wasta, I don’t want to accept that “that’s just how it works here.” No, it doesn’t have to be like that. I refuse to accept that as an answer.

I was a told I couldn’t change much, that I should just get a job, work, pay my bills and accept. But if these people knew anything about me, they would know I am not that person; I’m not the ‘average Jane’. I left everything and came here for a reason, to become part of my society, to help change, in any way I can.

So here I am… observing, learning, watching, understanding, digesting all factions and intricate details of my country. I don’t claim that I know it all. Every day is a lesson and that is why I go down to observe protests, I read blogs, I follow hundreds of Jordanians from all walks of life on twitter to try to comprehend how my country works and what the issues are after being away for eight years.

Photo by Rawan Da'as

Fast forward to Thursday, the Shabab 24 Athar ‘March 24 youth’ pro-reformists started a protest in Duwar al Dakhileyh ‘Interior Ministry Circle’. I followed closely. A friend told me it’s going to be crazy, it’s going to turn violent. I said no way man! It’ll pass. As I followed it closely on twitter I read about 35 pro-reformists got injured due to anti-reformists throwing stones at them. The news was doubted by few, confirmed by others, so I thought, the best way to understand the situation is to go down there for myself. Friday afternoon I drove to dowar al dakhileyh, and im going to try to draw a picture for you of what it was like: about 1500 protestors, all chanting for reform, for a better Jordan, songs like mawtini blasted through the speakers, I got goosebumps as I sang for my country, kids cleaning the street, free sandwiches, juice and water being passed around. Peaceful, very peaceful, men women and children from all walks of life gathered to call for a better Jordan. There was a sense of community, men sheltering the women, patriots who love their country, king and want a better life. In NO way was this a call to topple the monarchy of Jordan. The peacefulness was broken every few minutes by anti-reformists hurling stones at peaceful protestors, and im not talking about pebbles; rocks the size of my palm showered the area. On the loud speakers, pro-reformists asked protestors not to hurl stones back, to keep them on the ground, as the rest chanted “silmeya, silmeya” (peaceful, peaceful). The police, darak, amen 3am stood there, watching, although this was an attack by one citizen on another and every rock thrower should’ve been arrested by law. The anti-reformists chants got worse with time, declaring that they are “baltajeeyeh” (thugs), cursing, at some point chanting “[email protected] okhtak 3al dowar” and as the video of this shows, police stood there with a grin at the genius chants. I left for lunch, and as I followed on twitter I heard things were getting bad, more anti-reformists were joining, their cars were allowed through the closed off areas of duwar al dakhileyh.

A few friends and I went back to the scene, as we get out of the car next to the Marriott hotels some anti-reformists were exiting the scene, chanting “7ararna il dowar min il yahood wil baljekeyh” (we have freed the circle from Jews and Palestinians) “daba7nahom lal falasteneyh” (we have butchered the Palestinians), proudly pounding metal and wooden sticks on the ground, celebrating the “battle” they won. An old woman about 60 years old screamed “shame on you, we are all Jordanians,” a few men told her to pack her bags and leave back to Palestine (not knowing if she was Palestinian or not). It was obvious to them if you call for reform you must be Palestinian.  As I approached the Marriott it felt more like a war zone; police and gendarmerie were everywhere. We get asked by anti-reformists “sabaya into min jama3it meen?” (girls, which group are you with?) We did not answer to avoid stirring up a fight with people who were mis-led, mis-guided and clearly brainwashed. The hotel lobby had some sort of commotion going on, people fighting and beating each other up. I saw my friends in a car so I ran up to them and told them to stay inside and leave the area. We stood around the car awaiting for the masses to pass to avoid getting wacked by a stick or stone. We had our phones and were tweeting about the situation. We got approached by about ten men in uniform with batons and sticks raised, asking us if we are taking pictures. We were not. They asked to see our phones. We refused. They asked us to turn off our phones or else… It got heated. The more they yelled the more people gathered, we were called traitors and baljeeyekh. Batons were raised at us, threatening us, yelling and screaming at us… because we were suspected of taking pictures of what was obviously the amen/darak protecting the anti-reformists who had beaten up hundreds of pro-reformists at the circle. And as we got into the car the car was pounded by darak and amen 3am’s batons and sticks, with faint sounds of them cursing at us and calling us traitors. Was this because we posed a threat to the security or safety of anyone or of our country? What order was given to these men in uniform that gave them a green light to bash a car occupied by five women and one man that was leaving the scene?

As much as I try to draw this picture for you, im unable to. I’m unable to explain to you the emotions that overwhelmed us, the tears that filled our eyes, not out of fear, no, I didn’t fear for my life… I feared for my country, and was sick to my stomach from what I heard and saw. As I write this I shed a tear, because I had never expected my own countrymen, the forces that are there to protect me to call me a traitor, to label me as Palestinian just because I wasn’t joining the anti-reformists, to threaten my security and safety, to protect those who beat up fellow Jordanian citizens, to bend the rules.

One question resonates in my mind, why? Who told these people they were coming to fight Palestinians? Who told these people I am a traitor? HOW am I a traitor and the guy carrying a stone and stick against me a “loyalist”? How does that make any sense?  Ok those were a few questions… but the question is WHY?

How did we get to this? How did we get to a point where a pro-reform vs. anti-reform protest became a Palestinian/Jordanian, a loyalist vs. anti-loyalist protest? I hate that they call them “loyalists”, because that implies that if I don’t jump on their bandwagon then I am not a loyal and that is far from the truth.

I personally do not agree with all the points raised on reform by the March 24 Youth, neither do I agree with blocking traffic and disrupting people’s daily lives and work. I believe people need to vent and present ideas/requests/demands, in a place where they do not affect others. But this in NO way justifies the action towards the protestors; this does NOT justify anyone resorting to thuggary, baltajeh or horrific acts of violence. There are forms to defuse protests, civilized, well-planned and organized methods, and this was definitely not one.

I have been so heavy the past three days, unable to speak of anything but this. I used to always have an answer to what is the solution, right now, I don’t know what’s next, I don’t know what we should do, and as much as I fear to say this, but I lost hope on Friday. I lost hope in humanity, fairness, equality, basic law and order.

This is bigger than me coming back to make a difference, how can I ever sit at a table with a guy that carried a stick and stone against me and discuss the future of our country? How can we cure this? Something seriously went wrong on March 25th, we can not carry on without fixing it… from the root.

And so I sit here now with all my experience spilt out, a horrific experience I wish I never had, and wonder: now what? Right now I don’t know. Maybe in a week I can sit down and write something about what’s next, but today I remain in utter shock and disbelief.

This has shaken me pretty hard, shaken the foundations that I have for 25 years built my life upon, the faith in my countrymen, the love towards every citizen, the passion to build a better Jordan, the motivation to make a difference. I have my friends and family to attest to my love for my country… this love will never waiver, it will remain a distinct part of who I am and what I stand for…

I love you Jordan, and this experience will not break me, I promise you to relentlessly work for a better future… on March 25th 2011, I dedicated my life to you, and will always and forever be your loyal servant.

P.S to the uneducated/ignorant people who sent distasteful, racist messages, I have many things to teach you on respect and loyalty. Lets sit down and talk.

  • KT

    heartfelt, truthful and eloquent..

    outstanding work…

  • KT

    heartfelt, truthful and eloquent..

    outstanding work…

  • KT

    heartfelt, truthful and eloquent..

    outstanding work…

  • absolutely amazing,
    total honesty
    *respect*
    feels like I was there.
    got all details I needed.

  • absolutely amazing,
    total honesty
    *respect*
    feels like I was there.
    got all details I needed.

  • ZS

    Truly inspiring article… honesty is key and this article is all about that.

  • NH

    Dear Author,
    Thank you for such a touching story.

    If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. Nelson Mandela said that, so yes, i do believe that you can still sit down at a table with the guy carrying a stick and talk about progress.

    we cannot give up on peaceful means of achieving our goal

  • Najem k

    Sadly we like to live in the conspiracy theory life, somebody is out there to get us or it is us against xyz. These thoughts have been implanted in our minds since we were kids (school, work, sport etc..) & u r not suppose to question it as it is their for a higher propose.

    And excuse my French “what do they do when the shit hits the fan” or when things are not i their natural order?
    in our case: Jordanians V.S Palestinians is the Joker card that can be played anytime of the year

    No advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality or rights a millimeter nearer

    While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.

  • Pingback: Daoud Kuttab: Jordan’s Government and Reformers at a Crossroads «ScrollPost()

  • Pingback: Daoud Kuttab: Jordan’s Government and Reformers at a Crossroads | The Suburban Writer()

  • Anon1

    I stopped reading at “beautiful country”

    Not because I don’t agree, just because I don’t understand why we need to blast out sensational rhetoric before we get to the point.

  • abdelhamid

    إلى الكاتبة مع التقدير,
    شكرا لكل الحقائق التي ذكرتيها في تقريرك وشكرا لك على النتائج التي توصلت لها وشكرا لك مرة ثالثة عى التصميم بأن تكون لديك نفس الأفكار والرغبات التي كانت لديك .. واتمنى عليك بقوة : – أن تتأكدي أن ما شاهدتيه وزميلاتك من تصرفات سلبية من بعض رجال الأمن والذين ضد شباب 24 آذار – هم الأقلية في المجتمع الأردني وهم مدفوعين ممن لا يرغبون بالأصلاح وتأكدي أن الفاسدين والجهلة ومحدودي التفكير والفاشلين في حياتهم هم من يقاومون الأصلاح ومن يقرأ تاريخ الأردن وفاسطين سيكتشف مثل هؤلاء الفاسدين وأتباعهم من البلطجية وقطاع الطرق والعصابات ضد أي إصلاح .
    ماأتنماه منك أن تنشري ما كتبته حرفيا باللغة العربيةوفي أكثر من موقع لانه يعتبر مساهمة في نشر حقيقة ما جرى على دوار الداخلية وتأكدي مرة أخرى أن الأغلبية مع الأصلاح و محاربة الفساد والفاسدين وأعلمي أن هناك فاسدين وقطاع طرق وعصابات جذورهم فلسطينية وأردنية ومصرية وسورية…. ومن كل الجنسيات ,اعلمي أنت ومن يحملون أفكارك أن الوحدة الأردنية الفلسطينينة و تماسكها لا وجود مثيل له في التاريخ وأعلمي أن أسرائيل عندما تقتل وتحتل لا تفرق بين أردني وفلسطيني ومصري و.. وأعلمي أن الفساد عند المسؤولين العرب في عصرنا هذا لا مثيل له في التاريخ العربي وأسالي وأقرأي التاريخ أن من أهم أسباب ضياع فلسطين هو الصراع الفلسطيني على الزعامة الفلسطينية منذأيام أمين الحسيني ومرورا بأحمد الشقيري و ياسر عرفات وحتى محمود عباس وأحمد فريع … مرة أخرى لك تقديري