Zaki Bani Rashid writes: The call for reform started in Jordan well before the Arab spring. However, it has intensified since – not only because of the Arab revolutions, but also in response to widespread state corruption. Jordan’s reformers are demanding constitutional changes; in particular, changes to our election law so that a truly representative parliament is possible, together with an elected prime minister who is accountable to parliament.
The national demonstrations that took place earlier this month exposed the attitude of Jordanian officials toward reform. The demonstration was organised by the Muslim Brotherhood together with more than 70 independent initiatives. The announcement that the opposition was to hold a peaceful demonstration was met with a concerted campaign to disrupt it. The media even reported that radioactive pollution was present in the area of the demonstration. Various officials prepared a counter demonstration under the title “Loyalty to the King” in the same place, and at the same time.
However, the demonstration went ahead – the largest in the country’s history – putting Jordan on the path of true reform. What is most striking is that this large attendance was drawn from all parts of the country – cities, villages, Bedouin centres and refugee camps – and included many women. The official response had been designed to instil fear; it failed. Many in Jordan now speak of this demonstration as the beginning of the Jordanian spring. [Continue reading…]