Over the past few months, there have been major reforms in the Middle East in hopes of leading to political and economic reform in the governments of the region’s countries. One of these countries — the Kingdom of Jordan — lies close to my heart, because it is my home country.
There has been civil unrest in the nation; the citizens have been petitioning for their rights in hopes of leading to a more democratic government sector for the people. This is nothing new considering the trend of most Middle Eastern countries at this time, but what makes Jordan stand out is the nation’s tactics on achieving reform. Jordanians are not pursuing violent measures; rather, they are trying to take a peaceful, democratic perspective on their hopes for reform.
The people in Jordan are still hoping for political reforms by the government of Jordan, but they are not demanding violence because they do not want civil unrest. Jordan is made up of several different types of people. The most predominant are Jordanians and Palestinian-Jordanians, and they do not want to see a separation of the two because this issue is not an issue between citizen-to-citizen but citizen-to-government.
The people of Jordan fear uprises like those that happened in Egypt, Libya and other nations in the Middle East that have had reform revolution riots. So in an effort to give the government of Jordan a chance to reform quietly, the Friday afternoon demonstrations have been small and peaceful.
I have been living in Nashville for 10 years, and I have seen the importance of basic human rights. Being able to speak openly and have the freedom of choice and not fearing persecution because of one’s opinions is something that my American friends do not understand, but my friends back home in Jordan live with every day.
The citizens of Jordan have the opportunities to seek education but there are restraints on this knowledge. The government censors the media. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the unemployment rate for Jordan is 13.4 percent compared to the only 9 percent rate in the United States and the 9.5 percent in Tennessee. While taking in this statistic, keep in mind that Jordan is only about half the size of the state of Tennessee yet is home to over 6.4 million people.
Censorship, unemployment and the lack of rights contribute to the oppression of the citizens of Jordan and their need for reform to bring about changes. Jordanians want reform but not at the risk of disrupting stability. Together and through democratic organization, the people of Jordan can achieve their needs. They need a government that is by the people, of the people and for all of the people.
The ongoing reforms in the Middle East are relevant to Americans because they need to know how hard others are fighting to get the rights that they are naturally born with here in the United States. Tennesseans need to know and understand these issues because there is a significant population of Arab immigrants, specifically Jordanian immigrants, residing in the region. Awareness and understanding, cooperation and community are what make change possible.
To help support these reforms in my home country of Jordan, I am trying to educate my friends here in Nashville about what is happening overseas and the impact that these changes can have not only on Jordan, but on the whole Middle East. I have started a Facebook page (Democracy for Jordan) and Twitter page (@reform4jordan) for my cause.
Wael Al-Sadi has been working in the service industry as a cashier in Nashville for 10 years. He is currently looking to return to school to further his education in economics.