Tuesday, May 11, 2010

From Jordan, to help understand

A while ago I had written a post about the fact that I don't believe there is such a thing as the so-called "clash of civilisations". Used by western propaganda in order to support warmonger arguments ("Good against evil", "You are with us or against us"), this is in fact nothing more than an unfortunate invention of some US-bred International Relations academics, first among all Samuel Huntington, colleague and good friend of Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the main foreign policy advisers of the White House at all times.

I was inspired for that post by an article I had read about a criminal act happened in Jordan, where a young woman had been attacked by a taxi driver. The article somehow compared the unfortunate incident to Jordanian society as a whole, albeit without providing an extensive analysis of the social situation in that specific country.

I've recently stumbled on Jordanian blogger and social activist Ali Dahmash, who regularly updates his website, Under My Olive Tree, with Middle Eastern views on world affairs' most topical issues. Particularly interesting is his Get Involved page, which provides the readers with practical advices on how to volunteer in Jordan.

Ali shed some light on what the main problems in his country may be, and helped me understand some of the often overlooked nuances that are actually crucial in order to get under the skin of a place.

"Jordan is a moderate state," says Ali, "and its people have moderate views. But there are a few important factors to be taken into consideration:

"First of all the economic situation: in Jordan, and most Arab countries, it plays a major role in the well being of any family. When the father is responsible for the income of his family and most probaby has many kids (with an average of five or more, due to ignorance and lack of education), is under major. This may be cause of domestic violence and abuse. I have visited several local comunities and met teenagers who were abused by their fathers. It's very sad but the local community office was helping the victims. I'm sure this is a common problem of any poor area in any developing country such as Brasil or India.

"Secondly, I think often mothers spoil their male kids making them feel superior and faultless, and never punishing them. This plays a major role on the way those kids turn into men. A son can go out, stay late, smoke, travel, while daughters face more restrictions.

"In general, Jordanians are open minded but not as liberal as people in Lebanon, where women play a major role in the society and work as lawyers, or in PR, media and technology. Some intiatives are being carried out aimed at women's empowerment in Jordan and to support new startups for women. Queen Rania is doing a lot in this field."

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