Arab Spring Fever in Jordan
Many in the western world believe that the Arab Spring fever is by-passing Jordan and King Abdullah's government has only the challenge of containing the Syrian War from pouring into Jordan, along with an occasional protest demanding political and economic reform...and the end of government corruption.
But, according to Mudar Zahran, one of 15 leaders of the growing "Dignity Revolution" in the Middle East, a leader of the secular Jordanian Opposition Coalition, and an outspoken critic of the Hashemite King, the realities on the ground are quite different.
"Palestinians [of Jordan] and Bedouins, they hate the Hashemites...That is what you see today - people chanting against them."
"All Arab countries, all of these names - Jordanian, Palestinian, a Qatari, etc. - are bogus names; they never existed...We were all Arabs and proudly so... The Hashemite regime, like all Arab regimes, works on our divisions to make us hate one another, creating bogus animosities between us. In order to make us hate each other for the last 40 years and therefore stay in power, the Jordanians of Palestinian origin were deprived of education and government jobs; no more than 10 percent of the ministers in Jordanian government can be Palestinian."
It is statements like these by Mudar Zahran that demonstrate all is not well in King Abdullah's Kingdom and have gotten him indicted in a Jordanian court, in absentia, and he is now awaiting trial. If convicted by the military state security court, court officials say Zahran stands to go to prison for up to 15 years and do several years of hard labor.
Meanwhile, Zahran has been living in exile with his family in the UK for several years and has been granted political asylum. During these last years he has been writing and criticizing King Abdullah II and his government through his published articles in the Gatestone Institute, the Middle East Forum and his latest articles in Israel's Jerusalem Post.
It must be noted here that Jordan, like all Arab nations, makes it lawful to prosecute any activist, peaceful or a terrorist. Zahran's articles that have recently appeared in the Israeli newspaper must have been the final straw that broke the King's back and he has been called on the carpet, according to Zahran, to be "silenced."
In reviewing Zahran's commentary in the Israeli newspaper, one will see how he condemns the Hashemite Monarchy for their decades of deception. Just the titles of a few of his articles have obviously called attention to Zahran's poor opinion of the King: Is Jordan the Hashemite-Occupied Palestine?; Jordan's King Trying to Play on Israel's Fears; and Jordan's King and the Islamists: In One Boat? (http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/SearchResults.aspx?q=Mudar%20Zahran)
In a Jerusalem Post interview, Zahran explained that the four separate charges against him relate to
"incitement against the ruling political regime of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, "The court has indicted me for the crime of inciting hatred and attacking Jordan's image and the image of its one nation."
But, Zahran's critique doesn't stop with Jordan's King. It includes criticism of other Islamic leadership for using the "Palestinian cause" for their own agenda.
"It is the Demonization of Israel in the Western media that is not good for the Palestinians... It is a threat to Palestinians... Arab dictators such as Jordan's current King, have been able to butcher and oppress Palestinians only because the media is busy demonizing Jews in Israel."
Zahran claims that he is intentionally being targeted by the King because he speaks the truth and there are many Palestinian-Arabs who listen to him. Zahran's name was recently heard being chanted at a protest aimed at the King's mistreatment of the Palestinian Arab citizenry. His statements that the Jordanian Palestinians continue to be "treated as second-class citizens in comparison to the Bedouin and Muslim Brotherhood" seem to threaten the security of the King's position.
Zahran asserts that the majority of the Jordanian population, somewhere between 60-80%, identify themselves as Palestinians with family having lived in the land now called Jordan, while the King's Hashemite dynasty originates from a small tribe in what is now called Saudi Arabia. In addition, the 'West Bankers,' Jordanian-Palestinians now living in the West Bank, have been stripped of their Jordanian citizenship.
"The ruling Hashemites insisted that the West Bank become a part of the Hashemite kingdom as well [starting in 1948]. Then, when they retreated and ran away wearing women's clothes in 1967, they came back and told us suddenly: 'You from the West Bank are now not Jordanians any longer, you are Palestinian.'"
"My call for a civil state that provides equality to all Jordanians including the West Bankers, East Bankers and Christians are a major threat to a King who survives on an apartheid regime...otherwise, why would the king single me out of all of his opposition members living in exile?"
And in an interview with Al Jazeera, Zahran once said he wished "Jordan's King would treat his (Palestinians) the way Israel treats the Palestinians".
Mudar Zahran has not forgotten history, so he does not buy into the myths and lies that the Islamic leaders have perpetrated on his people and the rest of the world for decades.
"I am a textbook Palestinian... I have seen it all. We've had family members who were imprisoned because of terrorist acts, just like any family in the West Bank... I have a cousin who was killed by Israeli forces on my wedding day, and I saw his corpse on Al Jazeera." "Of course Al Jazeera didn't report that he had been caught in cross fire between Israel and PLO forces."
"The king is trying a secular, anti-Islamist leader who wants to change Jordan through peaceful means and who seeks equal rights for Christians as well as peace with Israel, while the Muslim Brotherhood is free to preach hatred."
Zahran is talking to the Israelis now and the Israelis are listening. They know what is happening on the ground in Jordan, of King Abdullah's growing weakness, and Zahran's political coalition may represent the basis for a democratically ruled Jordan, for real peace and cooperation with Israel, and the recognition of Jordan as the Palestinian Arabs' rightful homeland.
Mudat Zahran is the outspoken Muslim leader of the non-sectarian coalition that wants to take Palestinian-Arabs out of the 7th Century and bring them into the 21st Century. He is an important person, one whom the rest of the world ought to be listening to, especially Americans, when it comes to looking at options for a democratic government in Jordan and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But it is certain that King Abdullah is listening to what Mudar Zahran is saying...and one can believe Zahran when he claims the king wants to silence him.