Benefits of a fist fight

[10-01-2022 11:37 AM]

BY Jawad Anani

One of my favorite quotes is MK Gandhi’s, which says: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

The violence we witnessed 10 days ago is the Jordanian Parliament left indelible scars on the reputation of Jordan. Not that squabbling and punching were unique to Jordan, but because when it happens, it affects the mood of the people and may even scar them.

The conditions for a tense session were there. Opinions over the content of the constitutional amendments were plenty and revealed how fear-stricken are the people who had already been debating over adding the word “Jordanian women” to the word Jordanians in the title of the second chapter of the Constitution. Another point of debate was the King’s chairmanship of the proposed National Security Council.

Those who defended the opinion that such amendments should not be allowed based their arguments on future scare scenarios. Equality among Jordanians of both genders would open the door for the revision of the Sharia Law, particularly the issue of inheritance. The opponents were also concerned about the external pressures to adopt the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

It was not the intention of those who got into squabble in the December 28 session to do so. They exploded over who should talk first and who can out-shout others.

Naturally, the room was filled with photographers, journalists and bystanders. Soon, Jordan was on all the news networks, which are thrilled by such events.

The published photos provided an opportunity for parliamentarians to see themselves in that ridiculous situation. Sure they all love the media exposure and the 15 minutes of fame it brings, but not like that. So, the photos showed proof that something was deeply wrong and the debate over constitutional amendments should rise above such level.

On January 2, the debate was still heated, but disciplined and streamlined to produce the majority needed to decide which way to go.

Abdul Monem Al-Oudat, chair of the Legal Committee, did a convincing job defending his committee’s decisions-cum-recommendations to the Parliament’s general assembly. He said that the Arabic term “al urduniyyoun” (Jordanians) covers both sexes. Still, adding the word “al-urduniyyat” (female Jordanians) does not create absolute equality. Articles 103-106 of the Constitution, which will not be amended, guarantee that Sharia Law is still applicable.

Women have a quota in Parliament, men do not. So, it could be argued that women have more rights than men. The reason for the suggested amendment was to show appreciation for and promote women’s role in the society without encroaching on other forms of established and accepted differentiation.

After five days, the debate picked-up momentum and led to commonly accepted positions. Some members violated the by-laws of debate, but Abdelkareem Al-Dughmi, the speaker, tolerated and allowed some deviation from the by-laws in order to accommodate the lack of knowledge on the part of some parliamentarians.

Not all the debate was sophisticated or knowledgeable. Suggestions made on the spur of the moment were plenty and disrupted the flow of debate. Yet, the professional parliamentarians and ministers saved the day. Those include State Minister for Legal Affairs Wafa’ Bani Mustafa, whose contribution was effective, and Ministers for Political and Parliamentary Affairs, Mousa Ma’aytah, who made helpful comments.

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