Jordan’s torturous tales in The Washington Post

Jordan's table of torture courtesy WaPO Accompanying Jeff to the department of motor vehicles this morning, I brought along The Washington Post to read while he took care of business. On the front page I found a lengthy story about Jordan. No, this was not a story about the two Jordanian entries for the Sundance Film Festival — a first in the history of the Kingdom. Rather, it was a report of something else: torture.

What was new this time was a photo illustrated table listing the inmates allegedly held and tortured in Jordan alongside the methods of torture used upon them. According to the article, torture in Jordan comes in two flavors: Falaqa and Farruj

Former prisoners have reported that their captors were expert in two practices in particular: falaqa, or beating suspects on the soles of their feet with a truncheon and then, often, forcing them to walk barefoot and bloodied across a salt-covered floor; and farruj, or the “grilled chicken,” in which prisoners are handcuffed behind their legs, hung upside down by a rod placed behind their knees, and beaten.

Of course the report disturbed me for obvious reasons. But I’m also upset at seeing my country’s name linked yet again to this inhumane practice. Living in the DC metro area, where everyone is politically charged, I get a comment or two about Jordan being linked to torture when I reveal my nationality. If the information were true, then really Jordan should put an end to it. It is inhumane and uncivilized. Just end it!

I also got annoyed because the Post seems hung up on the issue when discussing Jordan. How many times do you have to report on this, really! Why not replace the front page story with something positive for a change. Here is a headline for you: Two Jordanian entries at Sundance Film Festival boost Kingdom’s cinematic ambitions.

Okay, this post is giving me a headache so I’m going to stop whistling in the dark here and find something better to do. I of all people should know that journalists revel in bad news and rarely file reports that leave you loving life and wanting more. Uff!

Update: Ammon News is reporting (Arabic) that Jordan has introduced a new law into the Penal Code that penalizes anyone that tortures any citizen to get information. The penalty is imprisonment for a period of between six months to three years. Here is the news in Arabic:

بشكل هادىء ودون ضجيج ادخلت الحكومة الراحلة تعديلا مهما وكبيرا على
قانون العقوبات الاردني يمثل انتصارا كبيرا لكل المدافعين عن حقوق الانسان والحريات العامة .. ويتمثل هذا التطور القانوني في تعديل المادة 208 من قانون العقوبات بما يكفل انزال عقوبات مشددة بحق اي موظف عام يمارس التعذيب ضد اي مواطن بهدف الحصول على اعترافات منه وذلك انه كان يكتفى بتجاهل هذه الاعترافات اذا تبين انها اخذت تحت التعذيب ..

وبحسب النص المنشور في الجريدة الرسمية بعددها 6734 جاء فيها انه وبناء على قرار مجلس الوزراء بتاريخ 9-10 -2007 فقد تقرر ادخال تعديلات على قانون العقوبات ليصدر بصفة قانون مؤقت يحمل الرقم 49 لسنة 2007 ليقرأ مع القانون 16 لسنة 1960 .

وجاء في نص القانون الجديد من سام شخصا اي نوع من انواع التعذيب التي لا يجيزها القانون بقصد الحصول على اقرار بجريمة او على معلومات بشأنها عوقب بالحبس من ستة اشهر الى ثلاث سنوات

That’s really good news. Hopefully this inhumane practice will come to an end soon, not only in my home country, but all over.


  1. Rob December 2, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Here is a headline for you:
    Jordanians decide to take their heads out of the sand.

    Two Jordanian films entering some film festival is not and should not be a bigger story than torture , because making films should be the norm for any self-respecting quasi-state… abusing people is not!
    Isn’t there enough Jordanian PR crap filling out the international press about how great Jordan is, and how the queen just won the Cinderella award and the king just cured small pox!!
    Don’t you think that making some effort to further investigate such incident or using your position as a media person to further expose the inhumane practices of the Jordanian security devices would do much more to improve the country and its image than to preach looking the other way towards the “brighter” spots!

    And by the way, the early reviews of Captain Abu Raed rate it as below-average (just to be kind and “positive”), and there is no reason for it to be in the festival other than the connections between the Royal film commission and some American film industry decision makers.

  2. jareer December 2, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Even if someone tries to scratch the image of Jordan, is considered a punishable felony ! Knowing the reality- in order to improve- is much better than a nice image in this era where the sun can not be blocked by one’s hand anymore, as they say. I will be more worried and concerned when people tarnish the U.S where I live, work and make a good life I couldnt make in Jordan than being worried about the reports that expose reality in Jordan.

  3. Hareega December 3, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    I’m really glad The Post and other newspapers are talking about torture in Jordan. It should have been JORDANIAN newspapers talking about it but no newspaper that is willing to keep on publishing would discuss it, so it should a Western newspaper/journal.
    Honestly, the issue of torture in Jordan in way way way more important than two movies going into Sundance.

  4. N/A January 19, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Next time you “get a comment or two about Jordan being linked to torture” you should remind them of what their government is notorious of:

    The situation is so bad in the states that Canada has put USA on the torture list:

    Of course this doesn’t justify what Jordan is doing, it is despicable, but the American public should get off their high moral ground and face the facts.

    FYI I am Jordanian currently studying abroad, I just came across your blog and I couldn’t resist commenting on this blog post.


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