Iraqis in Jordan face discrimination in wake of bombings

The UN news agency IRIN has a disturbing report about alleged discrimination against Iraqis in Jordan. Here is an excerpt:

AMMAN, 7 December (IRIN) — Reports of discrimination against Iraqis living in Jordan are on the rise following the November bomb attacks in the capital, Amman, which killed 54 and caused public outrage.

"We’ve received hundreds of complaints from Iraqis living in Amman, who say they face discrimination in the streets, in shops and in public places," said Muhammad Obaidi, spokesman for the Iraqi Association for Nationals Living in Jordan.

"They’re accused of being terrorists," he added. According to Obaidi, the tense climate has caused considerable distress among Iraqi expatriates, with many thinking about leaving the Hashemite kingdom. "When a taxi driver recognised my Iraqi accent, he forced me to get out, shouting that I was a terrorist," said Sundus Ahmed, an Iraqi resident of Amman.

This is distributing. I hope Jordanians will not fall into the trap of stereotyping a whole nation due to the evil acts of a small minority. Jordanians have always been hospitable and welcoming. I hate to think that might change.

11 thoughts on “Iraqis in Jordan face discrimination in wake of bombings”

  1. I agree that this is disturbing on so many levels … however; if this was true’ Iraqis will not have the privilege to live, do business, have fun and even participate in their own elections in a civilized manner, but the reality is that they are enjoying all these benefits in Jordan and more … so who is suffering from descrimination?
    Jordanians will always be hospitable and generous and nothing will change that … they just need some time to cope with what happened last month, after all it was not a casual act or something normal … I am not trying to justify these acts but I would like to cut this portion of population some slack … they are just shocked and want to come to terms with all this action … it is a small chunk that may be doing this as it is a minority of Iraqi expats that may be facing it .. provided that the report is 100% correct … so lets not judge all Jordanian by what a few may have done or may be doing … That will not be fair at all

  2. agh, it will pass. i didnt expect them to all hold hands and sing ‘its a small world after all’ less than a month after the bombings.
    people need someone to blame. iraqis are the closest at hands because they represent the origin of the bombers, then comes zarqawi the mastermind and then comes the U.S. at the top of the list.
    it’s like the flu…it will pass eventually

  3. This is nothing new.
    Iraqis I know have been treated poorly and had varying degrees of true discrimination. In 1993 there were people in Hashmi charging Iraqis families 100JD a month for a cement block room, 3x3m with a drainage hole in the middle for a toilet. And the police coming and rounding up families to take them to jail, or taking the mother and leaving the children without supervision. It was really bad then.
    But this group of Saddam-loyal Iraqis that came with all their money recently I don’t have so much sympathy for. But the ones in our neighborhood I have met seem kind and unassuming
    During the Eid a group of Iraqi young men parked on the side of our road, not knowing it was a Dr. neighbors favorite place. He came out yelling and punching, and all the men on the street were going to kill these guys. During Eid! Over an unmarked parking place. Sheesh.
    Isn’t anyone aware of the caste system in Jordan? Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Iraqis then Sudanese.

  4. When you are not in your own country … no matter what this place is … I guess it is inevitable that you would face some discrimination … you can’t expect everyone to like the fact that you are there …
    On the other hand; I was here in 1990 and witnessed how Iraqi refugees were treated … people gave them parts of their own houses to stay … without rent or anything … they shared their houses, their food, and they even arranged for some to have jobs that will help them get their own place at least … so let’s not forget that
    Times change … and we all know that people tend to be subjective and emotional … and more often than not … they don’t go into analyzing the whole situation before judging … we all do that … so what some are witnessing now of bad treatment or discrimination … it is a reaction and it will not last … so let us (the sophisticated bunch of people) … let us not fall in the same trap of reacting and judging on the whole thing … we should know better … besides; each rule has its exceptions … so lets keep this as the exception and not turn it into the rule by emphasizing that the claims have become the norm … and thank you all 🙂

  5. Khalideh, thanks for that perspective! I wish I had seen that – in Hashmi, Mahatta, Ashrafiyya it wasn’t so. Maybe between 1990 and 93 there was an element of compassion drain for Iraqis.
    Maybe as a foreigner (who hangs out with Arab foreigners – Egyptian, Sudanese, Iraqi) I see it more. They are all very careful not to criticise the generosity of their host country to it’s natives, but the devaluing they go through regularly still hurts.
    I am also keenly aware of how I have fallen from grace since the war. Being a blonde American used to put me at the top of the wasta heap (even though I am a Christian and a woman, for which points are subtracted), now I am learning about life at the bottom of the cultural food chain.
    It has helped me learn to empathize with African Americans in the US in a new way.
    I was just thinking yesterday (after getting run off the road by a truck-driver with a big wicked smile) that I am thankful for jordanplanet citizens who consistantly show me respect and dignity have elevated my opinion of Jordanians, especially men.

  6. Kinzi – I actually have seen Jordanians sypathize with iraqis first hand … I even had iraqi neighbours who used to stay the whole day at my house and leave at bed time … sometimes sleep over … and they were there temporarily because they were trying to get out of Jordan and the Arab World as a whole
    I remember that they used to share our food and family gatherings to the extent that they were considered family … we used to do a lot of fun stuff like cooking, dessert (Jordanian and iraqi), shopping … etc.
    When the day came and it was time for them to leave .. we said our goodbyes in tears and swore that we will always be friends and correspond till we meet again … I gave them my mailing address (before email) so that when they settle down they would send a note to let us know they were ok and found a place to stay … that was in 1993 and I haven’t heard from them since …
    I don’t want to generalize anything … but I guess you get the picture … if those Jordanians experienced the same thing from people they opened their houses and hearts to … how likely are they going to be tolerating and welcoming to others??? don’t forget that you are always dealing with feelings and emotions when dealing with people on a personal level .. and we all know that the people of Jordan are passionate
    I know that things have changed tremendously since the war .. but again lets not make the exception become the rule … please look at Jordanians with an open heart … no action comes from nothing .. something must trigger or push one to take action or reaction … so lets look deeper at the reasons behind such actions or reactions and then form an opinion.
    I have dealt with different nationalities and I am proud to say that we have some great guys out there … we are well educated and sophisticated … we are so proud and full of dignity .. I can’t deny that we tend to be lousy drivers but we are learning to live with that …
    Besides Kinzi … you are no longer an expat … you are as Jordanian as I am 🙂

  7. People lets not exagerate, its nothing at all like after Hariri in Lebanon, no one is being attacked or beaten much less killed. The only difference is that people have perhaps become a bit less tolarant than usual, a few comments thrown here and there something like that, it is wrong and the vast majority of people realise that. But the fact is that the population has been under alot of stress the past few years, both economically and politically.
    Kinzi: OK fair enough, but try being a Sudanese in Cairo or a Palestinian in Baghdad or any kind of non-European in beirut, then you’ll see discrimination! I think in most countries not being a citizen is always a disadvantage, legally because you have less rights, but also culturally because one will not always be able to recognize the social and cultural cues so easily = exclusion.

  8. Onzlo, Khalideh, well said. If I had been in Iraqi refugee, Khalideh, and known such hospitality, I would have emailed you! Often refugees are so ashamed of the time of being so needy they often don’t resume contact.
    Perhaps it is because I feel so at home in Jordan that I feel freer to criticize, sorry for being offensive. It’s just what my friends experienced on such a regular basis (more than a nasty look or comment), jailing, unpaid for work, targets for rape, scams to get an Aqaama…it’s good to hear positive.
    I actually think everyone should have an experience being an ethnic minority somewhere, so they know the exclusion and consequent humility that comes with it.

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