Immediately in the aftermath of the startling events in Egypt, there was much celebration across the Middle East. People in Jordan seemed simultaneously to be in a state of shock that a ruthless dictator was so easily deposed and overcome with euphoria at the thought that changes in the region were spreading. I found it odd. After all, nearly every Jordanian I’ve met considers the Egyptians to be a definite step down the totem pole of groups. After all, they’re building guards and what not… really the flotsam that makes Jordan work doing jobs Jordanians don’t want. And yet, when Mubarak fell, Jordanians somehow felt invested in the outcome. I found it curious. Still do.
But, as my three faithful readers will know I called a caution on the zealous celebration. I worried for the minorities, in particular the large Christian population. As much as I wanted to be wrong on this one, it doesn’t seem that I was. Starting with the troublesome news of security personnel breaking down walls and such at monasteries, the news has continued to be a rather grim for the Christians.
On the 9th of this month violence broke out when a group heard a rumor that a Christian woman who converted was abducted (read about it here). This was an unsubstantiated rumor. The woman came out on the television to say that she had never converted and had no idea how the rumor started. Yet, in the name of righting this “wrong” 15 people died. Something seems off. Tensions that were kept under control seem to be slipping out.
And then, on the 20th, an article appeared speaking of how Christians are continuing to protest that fact that two churches remain closed. They refuse to go home until the churches are open and safe. Imagine 10% of the population wants the ability to worship peacefully and safely. How demanding of them.
But, on the flip side, it seems that every group in Egypt is now staging sit-ins and protests using the same thing that brought down Mubarak’s government… the youth who have nothing better to be doing. I’ll tell you, this is something I definitely am not hoping for in Jordan. It’s why I keep calling for people of Jordan to understand the protection of minorities before demanding democracy. Because democracy without freedom… we’ve seen models of that… where were they? Oh yes, they’re toppling like sand castles in the high tide throughout the region. And so again, I say Egypt’s model may have come at the right time, but we ned to consider how do we get there from here.
The aftermath of their shocking success in ousting Mubarak has not led to immediate improvement in the lives of average Egyptians. If it had, we wouldn’t see millions out protesting (they’d have jobs and somewhere to be). It has not led to a better circumstance for minorities, if it had, we wouldn’t see this destructive interreligious strife. Bottom line, I’m not exactly sure who has benefited, and perhaps we’ll have to wait awhile to be certain. But, I for one am hoping that Jordan takes a more reasoned, measured approach to finding its way through this potential minefield. After all, as a minority I appreciate how tenuous our position is. As long as we keep quiet and keep our heads down, we’re okay. But, really, is that any way to live?
Happy Religious Intolerance!