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Jordan: Women's Rights Demonstrators Face Barrage of Criticism

On June 25, 2012 more than 200 people created a human chain in the streets of Amman to raise awareness for some of the most controversial women's rights issues in Jordan. They held signs protesting against issues such as harassment, crimes in the name of honor, the “rape-marriage” law, and citizenship discrimination.

The “human chain” of protesters – male and female, old and young – was seen to be a success by many, who felt that an outcry about the discrimination of women in Jordanian society was long overdue. However, the reaction by readers of news websites in the following days reflected how unprepared Jordan was for this type of protest.

A similar protest took place in Cairo some weeks later.

The following video by Loviniseasy was taken at the demonstration (and contains interviews in both English and Arabic):

These are some the slogans on signs held by protesters (translations and all images by Roba Al-Assi from the And Far Away blog, under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0):

What do you care what she’s wearing?

You’re killing us with your honor.

I am as strong as life.

Reactions from those who saw the protest were mixed. Many drivers laughed, heckled, or harassed the demonstrators. “Go home!” was a common call.

Some of those who saw or heard about the protest went online in the following days to discuss how disappointed and ashamed they were. Comments ranged from how they felt that the demonstration was a disgrace to Islam, to how they felt the dress of many of the protesters was unacceptable (as many of the women were unveiled).

Below are some of the comments posted on a story about the protest on Ammon News, a local news website.

Commenter “R” (June 25):

طالعين مظاهره ضد التحرش
البسوا و استروا حالكم الي بتلبس البنطلون بالكرته يعني…. بتخاف على حالها تسمع كلمه ؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟؟
و الشباب الي طالعين معهم حرام فيهم …
الي بتلبس شفاف أو ضيق أو بدي الله لا يردها و بتستاهل
و الحق على أهلها …
You are taking part in a protest against harassment. At least dress up conservatively and cover yourself up.. The one wearing the tight trousers says she fears she would hear a word ??? And the boys who are protesting with them shouldn't be there with girls wearing see-through and tight clothes and then ask not to be harassed. They deserve it and their families should control them.

Commenter “مستغرب من هالاعتصام” [Surprised by this protest] (June 26):

قلة دين
قلة وعي
روحوا اتفقهوا بدينكم صح
بعدين اطلعوا واعتصموا
امة تركت دينها وركضت وراء شهواتها ضحك عليكم ابليس
والله هذا الاعتصام حجة عليكم والله انكم ظلمتم انفسكم
ناس فارغة وبدها تلفت نظر
امة ضـــــــــــــالــــة
The lack of religion,
The lack of awareness.
Go learn about your religion correctly and then go out on protests. A community which has left its religion and chased after pleasures is one which has been tricked by Satan. This protest will be taken against you. You have done injustice to yourselves. You have no cause and just wanted to draw attention. You are a lost generation.

Commenter “Roba” (June 26):

كل يوم بحكي بدي ارجع لبلدي الاردن بس لا والله امريكا اشرفلي اشي بخزي
Everyday I tell myself I need to return to my country Jordan but then realise that remaining in America is more honourable for me. What's happening is embarrassing.

Commenter “مساكين” [Poor things] (June 27):

الشي الوحيد المخزي هو تعليقات الشباب المكتوبه هون. كأنه عايشين بأيام الجاهليه مش بال-2012. اشي بحزن. كل يوم ..بزيد.
The only thing embarrassing is the comments written by young people here. It seems like we are living in the Jahiliya (pre-Islamic) era and not in 2012. This is so sad and every day our sadness increases.

Commenter “أردني غترب” [Jordanian Expatriate] (June 25):

هاي الصور من الأردن ؟! والله يا بلد لو انهم جماعة لحى ودين كان منعتوهم يا امن اما هالأمامير لو شوه ما بيقولوا عادي صح ؟
Are these photographs from Jordan?! I swear if the protesters were sporting beards and religion, the security forces would have prevented them. But those pretty people are allowed to do and say as they please.

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