Jordanian Universities: Just or Unjust?

If the subject of the last post made me warm with awe, then the following news jolted me into wakefulness once more:

Jordan’s military court has acquitted a university official charged with slandering Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The State Security Court on Sunday found 60-year-old Zahria Ibrahim Abdul-Haq not guilty on all charges.

Abdul-Haq is a Jordanian of Palestinian origin who is the deputy dean at a private university in Jordan.

She was charged in September with making statements harmful to the image of the king and preventing university employees from hanging the king’s portrait in their offices.

She also was charged with instigating discrimination between students of Palestinian origin and Jordanians. [Source]

From the headline, Woman accused of slandering King acquitted, I presumed that a woman of questionable faculties had emitted a grievous slur against King Abdullah.

That her crime was to refuse to hang the king’s portrait in faculty offices is quite compelling.

During my time in Jordan I encountered a number of responses to the obligation to mount portraits of the Kingdom’s monarchs in shops, offices, educational establishments, and pretty much anywhere in the public eye.

For some, it was an obligation that had to be met, rather like a licence – if it was not up, questions would be asked.

For others, it was a celebration of their support for the King and his family, in a manner akin to the British penchant to have cups and dishes with the visages of the royal family stoically grimacing under tiaras and military hats.

The issue of the portraits is an interesting one, and I would love to hear the opinions of those residing in Jordan on the matter.

However, the crux of the report – the bite, so to speak – is the final point.

During my research a number of lecturers, both at Yarmouk and the University of Jordan, demonstrated a clear affiliation and desire to assist certain sections of their student body more than others.

For a Jordanian lecturer of Palestinian origin, it was unfair that his Palestinian-Jordanian students would be discriminated against in favour of Jordanian pupils; for a Jordanian lecturer, the injustice eked out to his Jordanian students, by professors of Palestinian origin, left a bitter aftertaste.

Of course, I could have this completely wrong, and Abdul-Haq could have committed utterly nefarious acts to instigate discrimination between Palestinian and Jordanian students; if this is the case, then I would be happy to stand corrected.

However, if my assumption is accurate, each side has become as guilty as the other as both parties, motivated by the perceived injustice, render the higher education system riddled with ambiguities and animosity.

2 comments on “Jordanian Universities: Just or Unjust?

  1. Yazan
    November 18, 2008

    Her charges were not about her choice of refusing to put up the King’s portrait. She banned people working for her from doing that. Which I think is just stupid.

  2. Hani Obaid
    December 4, 2008

    People used to use the pictures on car windshields as well thinking it would prevent the police from giving them fines until they stopped renewing people’s driving licenses unless they removed them. Others would play songs by al-abdallat who is known for nationalistic music thinking the same.

    I don’t think putting up a photo, waving a flag, or playing a song shows support for the monarchy, rather it shows that the person wants to tell other people they support the monarchy.

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2008 by in Jordan, Middle East, note-to-self and tagged , , .
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