Abu Aardvark reports today on a rather bizarre situation currently unfolding in Jordan.
One extremely interesting development in Jordan: a bizarre rash of rumours that it’s about to be hit with a major earthquake. Apparently these rumours, which have no evident basis in reality, have been gathering so much steam that the leading (and most government owned) newspaper, al Rai, ran two prominent front page stories: one insisting that there was no earthquake threat facing the Kingdom, and one decrying the spread of “destabilizing rumours.” The ‘political editor’ of al Rai worries that the spread of such rumours “threatens the security of the country and its citizens.”
He goes on to say that “rumours” of government corruption in 1989 led to the last liberalization and democratization experiment in Jordan that has since reversed itself.
Could this be the signal that a new wave of dissatisfaction will erupt in Jordan? Will there be serious calls for political and social reform?
Jordan has, for a number of years, always been viewed as the more moderate country in the Middle East. Ally of the US and much of the West and a moderate voice at the Arab League. That said, it is still a very repressive society. Political and Journalistic freedoms are very limited and the prison system has a history of torture and abuse of its’ prisoners.
We’ll see what comes out of these “rumours” could be nothing.. but when it’s on the front page of a major government run newspaper, it is probably something.