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Lebanon’s religious oppose Trump’s Jerusalem move; Jordanians march


[12/15/2017 1:59:38 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Lebanon’s Christian and Muslim leaders denounced the “unjust” decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and demanded that it be reversed. In a Dec. 14 statement at the end of an interreligious summit, the leaders said “that, in addition to violating the laws and international charters,” the decision ignores the fact that Jerusalem is a city holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews. The previous evening, in Amman, Jordan, Christian leaders led about 2,000 parishioners in a candelit march to protest the U.S. decision. “For us, Christian and Muslim Arabs, when we lose Jerusalem, we lose everything,” said Father Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, reading a statement. “We lose the core of our faith, because everything began in Jerusalem. We were all born in Jerusalem.” The interreligious summit in Lebanon, led by Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite Catholic patriarch, gathered Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs and representatives, as well as leaders of the nation’s Protestant churches and Sunni, Shiite and Druze communities. Participants stressed that Jerusalem “has a privileged position in the consciences of believers of these faiths.” “The U.S. president’s decision, based on special political calculations, is a challenge and a provocation for more than 3 billion people and touches on the depth of their faith,” the statement said. They noted that the international community “has adhered to the resolutions of the United Nations, which consider Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank to be occupied territory,” so most countries have “refrained from establishing embassies in occupied Jerusalem.” They appealed to the Arab and international communities “to pressure the U.S. administration to undo this decision, which lacks the wisdom that real peacemakers need.” They also called for the American people and their civic and religious organizations to raise their voices and warn Trump and his administration “of the unjust decision that will certainly push the Middle East again into a new cycle of violence.” In his opening address, Rai said he did “not know if the American people agree with their president’s decision,” but he noted that the U.S. bishops have rejected moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem since 1984. He said he hoped for the bishops’ continued support. He also said the interfaith leaders “categorically reject the Judaization of this holy city.” In Jordan, Bader told Catholic News Service the Dec. 13 March was a “condemnation of the decision” by Trump and a call to keep Jerusalem’s status quo. He said the Christian leaders also wanted to encourage diplomatic efforts by Jordan’s King Abdullah on Jerusalem. Jordan’s king is recognized as the custodian of Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem under its 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Bishop William Shomali, patriarchal vicar of Jerusalem, retired Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop Yaser Ayyash of Jordan and Jordanian Orthodox Metropolitan Benedict led the march, which ended outside St. Mary of Nazareth Catholic Church in Amman. Church bells rang as people gathered outside the church. In his statement, Bader called Trump’s decision “unjust to the Palestinians and contrary to United Nations and other international resolutions.” “Jerusalem is calling on people to stand with it,” he said, adding that Christians and Muslims stand in unity to face any act that endangers the Holy City. King Abdullah has called Trump’s decision a “dangerous” move and a threat to peace, saying “there is no alternative to Jerusalem as the key to ending the historical conflict in the Middle East.” “We have constantly warned of the danger of unilateral decisions on Jerusalem outside the framework of a comprehensive solution that fulfills all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to liberty and an independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said. “Moreover, attempts to Judaize Jerusalem and alter its Arab, Islamic, and Christian identity will unleash further violence and extremism; for the city is holy to the followers of the three monotheistic faiths,” Abdullah said. “Our right, Muslims and Christians, to Jerusalem is eternal.” *Crux Now

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French and Bahrain consortium enter negotiations to buy Jordanian airport


[11/9/2017 1:13:20 PM]

AMMONNEWS - A consortium headed by Groupe ADP, the operators of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, has opened discussions to acquire Airport International Group (AIG), it has been confirmed. Groupe ADP has joined forces with French infrastructure investors Meridiam and Bahrain asset management firm ASMA Capital Partners B.S.C. to take over the Jordanian group. AIG currently operate Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan’s largest airport welcoming 7 million passengers last year. Queen Alia is 54 per cent owned by the Jordanian Government. As such, any take over of AIG is subject to Government of Jordan and Project Lenders’ consent. ADP has been a 9.5 per cent shareholder in AIG since 2007 but wants to increase this to a controlling stake. At present, the Abu Dhabi investment company Invest AD hold 38 per cent of the shares, followed by Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment Company at 24 per cent. In March Queen Alia was named the best airport of its size in the Middle East, and tied for third place amongst airports of its size worldwide in rankings put together by Airport Council International’s (ACI). Last September, the second phase of a $214 million project set to increase its capacity to 16 million passengers was completed. *International Airport Review

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King receives phone call from Lebanese president


[11/5/2017 1:43:59 PM]

AMMONNEWS - His Majesty King Abdullah II on Sunday received a telephone call from Lebanese President Michel Aoun in which they discussed relations between the two countries and developments in the region. The King affirmed Jordan's full support for Lebanon in its efforts to preserve its national unity, sovereignty, security and stability and to achieve the aspirations of the Lebanese people for a prosperous future.

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Poor women in Jordan most vulnerable to death penalties


[10/9/2017 9:16:53 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The World Coalition against the Death Penalty will focus this year’s World Day against the Death Penalty by looking at the close link between poverty and the death penalty and highlighting how people living in poverty are the most vulnerable to the death penalty. The Association for the Solidarity of Jordanian Women, Tadamoun, has found that poorer women who are marginalised because of their social status are more vulnerable to the death penalty and less able to take conciliatory and tribal measures to drop the personal right to commute the punishment either by them or by their families. In 2016, Jordan issued 13 death sentences. During the period 1975-2016 Jordan carried out more than 1,226 executions, including 26 since 2014. At the beginning of March 2017 Jordan executed 15 people, most of whom were convicted of terrorist crimes, a first for mass executions in Jordan since 2006. Those living with imminent death sentences in Jordan (currently 15 women) are living under great psychological pressure, according to Tadamoun, which is pursuing a number of cases for tribal reconciliation. However, the weak response of the government has prevented reconciliation taking place; authorities are unwilling to pay large sums of money for tribal reconciliation if the offenders are female. According to statistics from 2016 from the reform and rehabilitation centres in Jordan, 87,442 people were admitted into rehabilitation centres that year of which 21,117 were sentenced, 36,197 were brought before a jury and 3,128 were administratively detained. *MEM

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US embassy in Jordan thanks King and Jordanian


[10/2/2017 3:23:41 PM]

AMMONNEWS - US embassy in Jordan thanked His Majesty and Jordanians offered condolences to the American people following the events in Las Vegas. Thank you to our Jordanian friends – particularly his Majesty the King – for your thoughts, prayers, and condolences on this very sad and tragic day in the United States.

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Momani: We reject Human Rights accusations


[10/2/2017 5:01:10 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Minister of State for Media Affairs and the government spokesman, Mohammad Al Momani rejected Human Rights accusations to Jordan. The HRW said that Jordan is "summarily deporting" Syrian refugees . Al Momani told Ammon that Jordan implements international law. He stressed that the security of Jordanian border above all consideration Noting that Jordan offers a lot to Syrian refugees . Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Jordan of "summarily deporting" Syrian refugees despite possible risks of harm to them in their war-torn country. Jordan hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled a six-year war in their home country. "Jordanian authorities have been summarily deporting Syrian refugees - including collective expulsions of large families," HRW said. A new report quoted a 30-year-old mother of three who said her family was deported despite the United States examining their request for resettlement. "They never gave us a reason," she said. During the first five months of 2017, Jordanian authorities deported about 400 registered Syrian refugees each month, HRW said. Some 300 registered refugees appeared to return voluntarily each month, and another 500 returned "under circumstances that are unclear". "Jordan shouldn't be sending people back to Syria without making sure they wouldn't face a real risk of torture or serious harm and unless they have had a fair opportunity to plead their case for protection," said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at HRW. The rights group called on other countries to support Jordan "to enable it to provide safe and decent asylum space for Syrian refugees and asylum seekers". The United Nations says Jordan is hosting more than 650,000 Syrian refugees, while the kingdom puts the actual number at 1.3 million. Government spokesman Mohamed Momani rejected HRW's findings, saying "the return of refugees is voluntary and not to any dangerous areas". He also said international organisations should do more to pressure other countries to host more refugees. HRW said group and individual expulsions peaked in mid-2016 and in early 2017 after armed attacks on the Syrian border and in the town of Karak. "Those suspected of posing threats should be given a fair opportunity to challenge the evidence against them and to have the authorities consider the risk of torture and other severe human rights abuse if returned," Frelick said. In June last year, a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State militants group killed seven soldiers in a no-man's land near the Syrian border. In December 2016, another IS attack in Karak, home to one of the region's biggest Crusader castles, killed seven policemen, two Jordanian civilians and a female Canadian tourist. Jordan is part of the US-led international coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. It also hosts coalition troops on its territory.

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How journalists helped change Jordan’s ‘marry the rapist’ law


[9/30/2017 5:32:19 AM]

AMMONNEWS - For years in Jordan, it was both conventional wisdom and the law: better for a rape victim to marry her rapist – she’s damaged goods, after all, and will bring shame and dishonour to her family since no one else will marry her. It was perhaps a step up from honour killing, the rarely-talked-about practice of family members murdering female relatives who had been sexually “interfered with” in an attempt to restore the family’s “honour.” Article 308 of Jordan’s Penal Code permitted pardoning rapists if they married their victims and stayed with them for at least three years, provided the victim was between 15 and 18 years old. Proponents of the provision argued it helped “protect the honour” of rape victims. Due in no small part to the courageous reporting of Jordanian journalist Remaz Mussa, the Jordanian government finally voted to repeal Article 308 in August. The 26-year-old blogger used his training from Journalists for Human Rights on data-assisted reporting to link honour killings and Article 308, and to hold the government to account. At a JHR workshop, Mussa learned the basics of using data to develop human rights stories. The honour killings story had largely been avoided by other media outlets in Jordan, and it was difficult to dig up data to back up the terrible accounts Mussa was hearing from families and NGOs. He began searching court records for data, reading the decisions in hundreds of honour killing and rape cases, and developing a series of infographics showing how authorities had dealt with them since 1995. Mussa’s reports caused a sensation given they laid bare the dreadful choice faced by Jordanian rape victims – either marry their rapists to defend their family’s honour, or risk being slain by family members. READ MORE: How Journalists for Human Rights helped a Sudanese reporter tell a disturbing story Jordanians, including the late King Hussein’s sister, were horrified by Mussa’s revelations. Princess Basma urged the media to keep up the pressure and push for a public debate about honour killings and Article 308. Remaz’s stories, widely circulated on social media and cited in outlets that included Human Rights Watch, helped trigger debate in the Jordanian Parliament. JHR’s team in Jordan followed up with online forums and radio shows that kept attention on the issue and kept the debate alive. The result? As of August 1 2017, rapists can no longer get around prosecution by marrying their victims. What’s next for the courageous Remaz? He’s setting his sights on Jordan’s gender gap, using his JHR data reporting know-how to investigate the lack of women in leadership in Jordanian politics and business. *Global News

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