Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Human rights: theory and practice

Jordanian university curricula are often accused of being too theoretically oriented, with little applied demonstrations. Not true for Yarmouk University.

For example, the university runs a course in human rights. As part of the course, somebody thought (for some inexplicable reason) that it might be a good idea to hear some opposition views on what is going on in Jordan.

So, they invited Fakher Da’as, who is running the Dhabahtoona campaign for student rights. So, five minutes before the guy is supposed to give his presentation, the head of the political science department informs the course instructor that the university administration has banned the lecture. See, this is the practical side of the course.

And things had been going so well. The university had been basking in the glory of the king’s visit last week. In it, he had exhorted the students to get involved in politics and promised that nobody will persecute them for their activism. Radio host Mohammad Wakeel gushed at how the wise and foresighted leadership of the university president was the reason why the king chose Yarmouk University as a venue to put out his message. Wakeel was happy with the university president because the said president made sure that Wakeel’s son would be one of the select students who met the king during the visit.

Part of Wakeel’s radio show involves an exhaustive reading of newspaper headlines in the morning. For some strange reason, he forgot to read the headline on this story this morning, even though it was reported in Al Ghad. It must have been an unintentional oversight.

So there you have it. In a nutshell, we can see the disconnect between theory and practice, professional journalism and hack journalism, sloganeering and reality. A perfect representation of what Jordan is today.

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At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will not comment on the article to avoid popping a vein or two in my head!

On a side note: I love your sarcasm in writing about issues. Keep up the good work!!

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Blush! Thanks.

At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The joys of living in a democratic society...

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

ماهو الوكيل إذا إبنو ماخذ بعثه من الجامعة أو مكرمه، يعني بدو يعظ الإيد إلي طعمتو؟ يعني والله بكون قليل أصل وما بنعطى عين..بس خني أقولك هلسالفه: الفرق مش بين نظري او عملي، الفرق هو بين الجدي والتيس..ف يو نو وات أي مين..

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Hatem Abunimeh said...


Allow me to be the devil’s advocate for just a moment:

Question: Why did the students and not the instructor [extend] the invitation to the speaker?

Q: The students say that they obtained permission from the instructor but did the instructor obtain a written approval from the head of the political science department?

Q: Did the head of the political science department discuss the invitation with the Dean of the college of Liberal Arts? Did he get his Okay in writing?

You see it is like a domino effect and things can get out of hand real quickly. These things need to be fully communicated much earlier prior to the actual event taking place.

I have a feeling that there was a breakdown of communication some where along the lines. We need someone from this organization to verify that they have received all of the necessary approval from the top to the bottom in writing prior to the actual event taking place. In the absence of showing that these approvals were obtained I would say that the University acted within its own jurisdiction to ban the speaker irrespective of who he is and for all intents and purposes he may have been a very honorable individual.

Sorry for the long comment.

At 11:57 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hatem: I don't disagree, if all of the assumptions you made are correct. On the other hand, sometimes you need to consider how decisions, even when they are correct, are perceived. The perception is that the university wants to silence Da'as. I doubt that if somebody less controversial was invited this would have happened, even if not all the permissions were obtained.

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The planned lecture should be posted online, youtubed, ikbised, facebooked, and converted into a small audio for mobile file which can be easily messaged and bluetoothed.

The lecture should get out there and to the students it was intended for, where they can react/interact to it at their free will, and they will do so most probably responsibly and progressively I believe.

It's paramount to demonstrate how the business of fear, censorship and pathetic paranoia cannot stand in the way of dialog.

Once the lecture reaches the students, then the debate begins.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am disappointed you did not write about canceling Jerash Festival.... I am trying to write an article about it, and as always came to you first...but Alas... did not find anything...

At 4:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf, I can't find an email address for you on the blog. Could you please email me at myoccupationblog at gmail dot com. Thanks!

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your columns.

One thing is a fact, whenever the Jordanian regime speaks of political reforms and freedoms, rest assured it's Kharaspeak meant for the ears of donor countries. Fact is, the moment the regime becomes economically independent from donor countries, we will witness repression the likes of which we have never scene in cold war police states. We have seen that in the past when the regime got America's nod to crush political resistance. Any commies and nationalists here who remember the torture chambers and the solitary confinements? Yup, that's the one. And if you believe that these days are behind us, you are dreaming. The only reason we don't hear but a few stories of torture in Jordan is that freedoms have been completely crushed in Jordan. What we have today is frreedoms on life support. You are free to have sex and to drink booze. Try to organize somethign meangful that really challeneges the political establishemnt and you will see how quickly Jordan's Stalinist forces come to the fore. The commies saw it, the nationalists saw it, and the moderate Islamists are so close to tasting it as their more radical brothers have already got a taste of it. Don't hold your breath my friend. The Jordanian regime wants to to be free to support it or free to shut up.


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