My friends and family in Jordan have been telling me that life in Jordan has changed remarkably following the horrible 9 November terrorist attacks that rocked the country. Nowadays, ordinary Jordanians have to go through metal detectors wherever they go, something that has created an overall sense of forboding. Rami wrote a detailed blog entry about this last month, in which he described the changes he’s noticed in his hometown following the attacks.
Another consequence of the 9/11 attacks is that life for Iraqis in Jordan is also no longer the same. In an earlier post, I highlighted an IRIN article examining the harassment Iraqis began receiving after the attacks. The Washington Post ran an article today about new restrictions that are being imposed on Iraqis trying to enter the kingdom. Here are some excerpts:
AMMAN, Jordan — Jordanian border police are turning away hundreds of Iraqi vehicles daily at the Karama border crossing, often without explanation, creating huge parking lots of frustrated travelers in the Iraqi desert. At Queen Alia International Airport, just south of Jordan’s capital, Amman, Iraqi passengers are ushered into a room and interrogated before being allowed to enter the country. And some Iraqis who used to be able to get 30-day visas to Jordan are now being allowed to stay just a few days at a time.
Jordan’s government spokesman, Nasir Judah, confirmed that the country had imposed new border restrictions on Jan. 2 that prohibit vehicles with Iraqi license plates from entering the country. As a result, Iraqi commercial drivers are effectively prevented from taking passengers to and from Jordan, and private vehicles with Iraq’s signature black license plates are stopped at the border. The only Iraqi vehicles allowed into Jordan are those with white license plates, which can be obtained only after the owner puts funds into a trust equal to the value of the car. "It’s only routine measures . . . but because of the circumstances we have to be cautious and take all the essential measures," Judah said.
But some Iraqi citizens say they feel as if they are being profiled — suspected of wrongdoing simply because of their nationality. Their complaints echoed those of Arabs in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Source: [The Washington Post]
I understand the need for securing the country’s borders after the horrible attacks, but it ails me that immigration officers have to undertake a form of racial profiling in order to achieve this goal. Then again, this is only a news article providing one perspective. The situation on the ground may be a tad bit better than what is depicted here.