Bigotry at Jordan’s education ministry

Renowned journalist Randa Habib, who heads the AFP bureau in Amman, reported in a column she writes for The Jordan Times a very disturbing situation. Here is an excerpt:

One of my readers called to tell me about this shocking problem: she works for a Christian who is in the field of education, but her boss is being refused any supply of books from departments that depend on the Ministry of Education. Why?

Well she is told that they will never provide books to this "kafer" (non-Muslim) whom they described as filth." My reader, a Muslim herself, was appalled and told those men that their attitude has nothing to do with Islam and its precepts of tolerance. But her speech had no effect on them. On the contrary, they criticized her for working for a non-Muslim.

My reader was very distressed when she called me, and told me that her boss is in fact thinking of emigrating. When I suggested that a complaint be filed, my caller expressed skepticism over the outcome. "Someone higher up in the Ministry of Education must know that such things are happening," she said. Do they?

The most disturbing part for me is that the bigot in this instance happens to work at a department related to the Ministry of Education, of all places. What kind of education is this person trying to instill in the youth of the kingdom? An education of intolerance, bigotry and hatred? Should I begin worrying about upcoming generations? Will this bigot’s brainwashing techniques ever reach them? It really disturbs me to see this happening in Jordan, which, in my opinion, remains a model of co-existence between Christians and Muslims. Hat tip: [Jordanblogger]

32 Comments

  1. jareer June 23, 2006 at 8:52 am

    Hey; wake up and don’t pretend being shocked for that. That has been, and is happening all the times. Did you live in a cave when you were in Jordan !

    Reply
  2. Abu Sinan June 23, 2006 at 11:06 am

    This is a problem. I really think current political events are shaping people’s beliefs in a very negative way. I have noticed this type of stuff far more since 9/11.

    World events seem to be pushing everyone to a “you and us” type of framework. It doesnt help when you have aggressive Christian missionries that follow on the heels of US troops into places like Iraq.

    People view the clout with which far right Christians here in the USA have on international policy and extend that to all Christians.

    Reply
  3. bassel June 23, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    Ignorance is still ignorance….you don’t have to throw the stick, fight them beck, even liberal muslims are being accused of betraying their countries….suck eh, but we have to fight them..”tuffa7ah wa7deh 7’arbaneh bet7’arreb sa77arah”

    Reply
  4. Abu Shreek June 23, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    I find this a very isolated incident from an ignorant stupid idiot who needs to be disciplined, especially if he is any position of decision making.

    HOWEVER, I do not agree with making this appear like a significant issue by the writer of the article or by you Natasha. We DO NOT have that problem in Jordan, despite what people like jareer above would like to think, and I am pretty sure you are aware of that.
    You know issues like these are instigated by people who wants to divide our communities (see Egypt) and we should not be playing into their hands, by exaggerating separate incidents.

    I am sure there is an idiot in some other Ministry who hates some other group of people.

    Reply
  5. Luai June 23, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    I must admit I was quite shocked and very disappointed to read about it this morning. Hopefully something will be done about it.

    Not to take away from the topic, but I’ve always felt that Ms. Habib puts a spotlight on many topics others wouldn’t dare cover or publish. I hope her articles are leading to positive changes.

    Reply
  6. natasha June 23, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Dear Abu Shreek,
    I see your point but I only commented on an already published article. If you believe journalists should not report these incidents for fear of airing our dirty laundry or any other reason, then I suggest you send Randa Habib or the editor of the Jordan Times any e-mail to explain your point of view.

    Thank you
    Natasha

    Reply
  7. Hamako June 23, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    You should hear the crap that comes out of university professors’ mouths (even at the more prestine unis in Jordan)…From the north? plus 5 points on your exams. Baljeeki? -3 points. Masee7i baljeeki? Forget about it.

    I guess it would make sense for imbeciles at the ministry of education to push for other imbeciles to do their educating for them. And then ‘outsiders’ wonder why many have supressed racist emotions in our part of the world. Many themes in the social stratasphere allude to a clash of political ideals…I think it’s not a problem of liberal vs. conserv., its a problem of educated vs uneducated.

    Reply
  8. Natalia June 23, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    Jesus.

    Oops, did I expose myself as “kafir filth” just now?

    Reply
  9. Lubna June 23, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    Natasha… you wouldn’t believe it:( I am a 20 year old jordanian, and i’m being shocked constantly by the mentality, and the lies from the people living in my country. I don’t want to believe it, but lately i’m digesting the truth slowly. I always defend Jordan, and jordanians, i always saw what is good and bright. But the good is only accumulated in 5% of the population, the rest all depend on racism, hatred, and BIG lies to carry on their daily lives. Now i understand why most of the 5% remaining would want to immigrate to other countries, hoping for a better life….

    Reply
  10. Azmi June 23, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    If true, this is outragous. please post the email of the edu. minister and we will send emails.

    LUBNA: “the good is only accumulated in 5% of the population, the rest all depend on racism, hatred, and BIG lies to carry on their daily lives.”

    Common Lubna. This 5% you are talking about are the source of all evil in Jordan, sons and daughter os privilage who ride on the backs of the 95% of Jordanians. the elite in jordan are the scum of the earth. they mistreat and look down on everyone else. culture and values trickle down, not up. if you consider yourself one of the 5% then you should do some soul searching and ask yourself if you are really the problem . I mean when you condemn the 95% of Jordanians, how do you consider yourself any better than those you call racists? If any, you are proving my point. fact is, you had this attitude even long before you noticed anything wrong. this sickly attitude is so prevelnet among Jordan’s elites (not to be confused with intellectuals). give me a failed state, and i shall give you a failed elite. if any, i think the 95% you despise should make sure the 5% has no control or say over jordan’s affairs, then we shall start seeing progress in jordan. so lubna, if you plan on leaving Jordan…take care.

    Reply
  11. Lubna June 23, 2006 at 8:15 pm

    Azmi…:) I am neither privileged nor elite. I don’t mistreat and look down on anyone. I don’t condemn and I don’t consider myself better than anyone else. And I’m not a common Lubna. You only know my name; on what basis are you judging me? You built all those thoughts about me, I guess you think my father is a highly rich man, who’s paying for my internet connection, who put me in a great school and thus I got my English. I shouldn’t give you the privileges of an answer, but I’ll do it just for the pleasures.
    The 95% already made sure that the 5% don’t have control over the kingdom’s affairs, and with that, we aren’t seeing much progress in Jordan.
    I had and still have a couple of Jordanian friends, who keep on complaining about Jordan, the narrow minded environment, the terrible was6a dilemma, and the lies that are all round, and they always say that they’re leaving the country after graduation. It’s really sad to know that people like the ones I know, are not even considering staying in their homeland to help make it progress and develop, and to help building a community that is educated, open-minded, and well defined. I was always there to defend Jordan, and I never understood why they wanted to leave! As days and experiences pass by, I’m starting to get the picture. My beloved country is being controlled by money oriented, racist people, and the terms “honesty, dignity, loyalty, appreciation, respect and fairness” do not exist. That made me understand why my friends want to leave, and I blame them no more.
    I don’t want to intrude Natasha’s blog much more, and I apologize for this little comment already, but before I end it here, I should add that I am not waiting for you Azmi to help me decide whether or not to leave my country.

    Reply
  12. kinzi June 23, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    I commented on Nas’ link to this post. As a foreigner, I’ve heard heaps of stories like this at every level of government and society so it was no surprise to me.

    I would like to hear from more Jordanian Christians on the issue.

    Reply
  13. jareer June 23, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    Kinzi,
    You seem to know more about life in Jordan than some Jordanians who think they know a lot while isolating themselves in some fancy suburbs of Amman.

    Reply
  14. euroarabe June 24, 2006 at 1:14 am

    Im a Jordanian Christian and no one ever disrespected me. Maybe things have changed in Jordan, I dont know…

    Reply
  15. Azmi June 24, 2006 at 3:14 am

    Lubna: “You only know my name; on what basis are you judging me?”

    How silly of you to say this. your post condemning 95% of Jordanians reflects your values. that’s enough to say you are hateful person who is willing to denounce 95% of about 5 million Jordanians and you have not even met them let alone read a study about them. yet you complain about being misjudged. good grief…can you say DOUBLE STANDARDS!

    Reply
  16. XOX June 24, 2006 at 3:44 am

    Lubna you say “I don’t condemn and I don’t consider myself better than anyone else. ”

    But just before that you said ” But the good is only accumulated in 5% of the [jordanian] population, the rest all depend on racism, hatred, and BIG lies to carry on their daily lives.”

    Dear lubna, You have a serious problem with telling the truth girl. so not only are you a racist, heteful person. you are a lier. proves Azmi’s point about the 5% you belong to, since you don’t consider yourself from the other unworthy 95%.

    Before that you say “I always saw what is good and bright.”

    Really? it’s impossible to reconcile that with everything else you wrote. man, you have ISSUES!!!!

    Reply
  17. oday June 24, 2006 at 6:37 am

    To euroarabe , what u said is right, and trust me jordanians did not change, muslims and christians live in this country like a family , u could be a friend with a jordanian muslim for 10 years befor he know that ur christian and he will not aske u , and if he know nothing will change , thats how we are the jordanians think,and thats why we proude to be jordanians .
    i think natasha just make a problem from nothing , mabye this story happend, but if its realy happend then its just irregular , and we discuses here the regular habits not the irregular.
    if there is irregular jordaninas ” christian or muslim” who is racist then we dont have anything to discuse about casue this person is irregular, and irregular people are in every place in the world and at every time in the history .
    any one wana evidence ,just go to Husin in irbid or Fehais near salt or any village to see how muslims and christians live as a family .

    Reply
  18. Issa June 24, 2006 at 6:44 am

    When you are a member of a minority group, you will always face discrimination.

    I spent my childhood and adult years in Jordan and I have to say that there are many previlages that I had simply because I was Christian and there are many times I was discriminated against because I was Christian.

    Later I moved to the states, same situation, I had some previlages because I spoke another language and I was discriminated against because I was Arab.

    You just learn to live with it and survive

    Reply
  19. Muhannad June 24, 2006 at 7:50 am

    I’m not shocked by what happened in the ministry at all. Yes in Jordan we do have some racism. We do have the Muslim Christian problem to a certain extent. But I’m certain it is NOT that big. I’m afraid that it may get worse unless we tackle those incidents. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about them. I don’t care if “their attitude has nothing to do with Islam and its precepts of tolerance”. we must not wait for some Muslim or Christian cleric to prove it. What if someone is neither a Muslim nor a Christian? Does this implicate that he is a filth or not worthy of respect or equality??!. This is sad.

    Reply
  20. Firas June 24, 2006 at 10:10 am

    We have to understand that the Muslim brother hood in Jordan have been dominating the educational sector for a long time!

    The time when all leftists were hunted down and any other party or organization, the Islamists had complete freedom! We all know why?No? Becuase the US wanted them to fight communists (kuffar)!

    Reply
  21. Azmi June 25, 2006 at 3:24 am

    I guess as jordanians we can’t be troubled by one form of discmination yet defend or be indiffirerent to another. This has been the case.

    discmirnation is contagious. if you tolerate disrimination based on origin or gender then you are only nurturing an environment that will one day become fertile for all sorts of discrimination.

    When was the last time you were indignant when a veiled and qualified woman was denied a job in Jordan? I know from my immediate family circles that just few years ago, a veil could have dropped your chances of getting a job. Where was the protest when someone was denied a jobs based on his last name and preceived origin? Now we see job ads saying your age matters. Where is the protest?

    So come on folks. Either be indegnant all the time or suffer the consequences of your indefference. and this is why I blame the elite in Jordan. they have stood by, enjoyng their privilage, never shook a finger except in a token way, let the situation get so out of hand that now I am afraid discrimination in Jordan is a fact of life. Values trickle down. How do the 95% of Jordanians deal with it? THEY LEAVE TO THE GULF OR LATIN/SOUTH AMERICA.

    So Lubna, spare us your 5% victimization theory. You have done so much damage to Jordan and you stood to benefit from it. but now you are indigant because its bad for your image, not because you resent it out of principle.

    Reply
  22. Pheras June 25, 2006 at 4:12 am

    Azmi and XOX, go to hell, and get a shower while you’re at it. It’s people like you two who make the %5 of people in Jordan despise the rest, it’s your envy and jealousy that makes us wish to leave Jordan, it’s all because of you.

    Firas, that is so true what you said.
    Natasha, thank you for writing this.

    Reply
  23. The Observer June 25, 2006 at 4:32 am

    Kinzi, I am a jordanian christian, and has been living in jordan all of my life. While sure you can sense a bit of racism which is understandable among any kind difference among people, and that is nothing more than the racism you can find between classes, Jordanian origins vs Palestinian origins, or the racism against people who came from kwait in 1990, or the new recent comers from Iraq, or even between families of the south of jordan and the north of jordan.

    This kind of racism is normal and it varies among people. Usually it becomes a sterotype kind of thing when you read or heard something like they caught an Iraqi thief, when someone is angry with another Iraqi, he would say “All Iraqi’s are thieves”. You know this kind of thing.

    But in general, I havent sensed any real discrimination against me as a chritian in jordan. I have the same rights and obligation as much as any other muslim. I have many muslim friends, in fact I have only few christian friends. It depends on the person and how much he/she is tolerante to others.

    I can say that the majority of Jordanians (95%+) do treat each other in respect regardless of each other faith. Being mean to someone for his faith is not acceptable as a good value in our society, but then you can find even among those majority of (95+) in their inner circles some sterotyping and racism comments.

    Reply
  24. Azmi June 25, 2006 at 5:58 am

    Fares “it’s your envy and jealousy that makes us wish to leave Jordan”

    Please don’t let anyone stop you.

    in your twisted world, people envy thieves and are jealous of corrupt officials. in a civilized world, we call it justice. poeple want justice done, and they expect for theives and corrupt persons to answer for their loots.

    I bet you Jordan would be a far more advanced state and a much more prosperous country if the 95% you and Lubna despise are to run the affairs of the country. democracy is our salvation and ultimate protection from the corruption of the few, which has drained the national resources, widened the gap between rich and poor and have resulted in massive unemplyement, stagnant wages, worsening educational and health system for the poor (most of jordan), and rising costs of living. but you would not know this because you don’t have to work to earn a living, like the poor souls who are accused of being lazy in a previous posts because they don’t want to spend the next 10 years of their lives making 150 dollars a month.

    But that’s why you need the US and Israel to protect you. You know you will be on the first boat to Cybrus if Jordanians got their way.

    Reply
  25. Lubna June 25, 2006 at 7:34 am

    so now, I don’t have to work to earn my living?? 🙂 that’s great

    Reply
  26. john Kactuz June 25, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    That racism and other isms exist everywhere is a given fact – there is nothing really we can do about it, being part of human nature. That the hatred is not only tolerated but promoted by the government is what is so shocking. Well, actually it is not so shocking given that this is a Muslim country.

    Islam always discrimimates. Sometimes it is more, sometimes less, but where there is Islam there is oppression and hate of the other – usually jews and christians. There is little truth in the concept of “Islam and its precepts of tolerance” unless, of course, “tolerance” means “we will let you live as a second class citizen if you do not offend us in any way”.

    This is for Abu Sinan. So you have a problem with Christian missionaries? Do you have a problem with Muslim missionaries? Maybe what Islamic societies need are Christian missionaries, and Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, Mormons, Athiests (everybody accept Scientologists!). There is nothing like having Jehovah Witnesses knock on your door to teach tolerance – and patience. Maybe this would teach Muslims real tolerance. Please understand that the only “You and us” that matters is the one that separates those who believe in freedom and equality from those who don’t. The problem with most of the Islamic world and Muslims in general is that they don’t accept this simple principle. Haven’t you ever read the Quran? How about the hadiths? They are very clear about the preferred relationship between Muslim and kaffir.

    I think things will get worse. Bad times are coming, both for non-muslim minorities in Islamic lands, and for Muslims in the West. You can blame whoever you want, but I blame Islamic intolerance and hate. I also blame the lack of honesty of people on both sides.

    John Kactuz

    Reply
  27. Wong June 25, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    “There is little truth in the concept of Islam and its precepts of tolerance”

    Look whoes talking. the people who brough us the genocide against natives of the world, WWI, WWII, Crusades, Iinquisition, Holocoust, Vietnam, Algeria, Palestine, Iraqi, …

    Dude, there is nothing that we arabs/muslims have done that could even match a fraction of the brutality brought to th ehuman race by White Christians. So spare us your BS and go get yourself a sense of prespective and a measure of honesty.

    Fact is white christians have spared the world their relentless violence only after they exausted themselvs killing each other in WWII.

    Reply
  28. kinzi June 26, 2006 at 10:10 am

    Observer, euroarab, oday – thanks for your perspectives and I add them to my ‘trend-watch’. True that prejudice due to faith is much less strong than the others you mentionedI hope that discrimination at all levels will be confronted.

    Reply
  29. 3ogla June 26, 2006 at 11:43 am

    Can we say that “John Kactuz” is “Prgammer Craig” Welcome back LOL

    Reply
  30. The observer June 27, 2006 at 8:34 am

    Kinsy, what is your ‘trend-watch’? Do you have a blog for yourself? I would like to check it out if you provide me the link pls.

    John and Wong there is no need to point fingers. Searching the history, you can find many brutal acts in the name of God from both sides. It isnt about Christianity or Islam, it is about humans, their needs, fears, and ambitions to dominate others. We are a new era, an era where human beings can reach a level of maturity to know how to live togather no matter of their differences.

    John, if you look in the mirror you will see Wong. You are both the same…

    Reply
  31. tim July 4, 2006 at 3:05 am

    Hi all I am chrsitian american arab from jordan living in the states.. This gov’t official albeit is not too bright for saying what they said but all in all we as chrisitans are commanded to pray for all those in authority regardless if we lkike them or not and let god deal with them…

    Reply

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