Reconstructing the Identity of the Jordanian Nation State

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Mon 17 October / Oct 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The debate taking place today over the King’s sixth discussion paper, comprises to a major extent one of the very reasons why His Majesty proposed this paper in the first place; to conclude the ongoing discussion on the Identity of the Jordanian Nation State. Especially in the aftermath of the futile discussion fused by those who seek a religious state, and those who seek to secularise it, while in the meantime, each crowning themselves in charge of sustaining the construction of the Country’s identity.

His Majesty put the whole discussion to rest, reaffirming the Civility of the Jordanian State, basing on the Constitution and the Rule of Law, whereby the preservation of public freedoms is insured. He stated that the Civil State is one that upholds rule of law and is governed by a constitution and laws. It is a state that endorses active citizenship, pluralism and difference in opinions. It is a state where citizens have equal rights and duties, without any discrimination based on religion, language, colour, gender, race, class, political affiliation or intellectual views.

Despite that, still, proponents and opponents continued to dispute, over the last two days, over the interpretation of the discussion paper itself; one maintaining it is closer their view, and the other to his, each claiming a Royal triumph to their own favour. Those calling for the Islamic state, for example, utilised certain phrases in the paper to prove the validity of their claims, as if the Civil State is also a religious one! Which is incorrect, even though the civil state does safeguard religious freedom.

On the other side of the argument, the lot there decided to focus on the general concept of the “Civil State”, including the Rule of Law. Other proponents of secularism, in spite of the systemic deformation of the concept itself, see that the paper is more detached from their position, especially in regards to the King’s assurances on the fundamentals of the Civil State, clearing out that it “is not synonymous with a secular state. In a civil state, religion is a key contributor to the value system and social norms. Religion is also enshrined in our constitution. However, we will not allow anyone to manipulate religion to serve political interests or gains for a specific faction.”

In all honesty, it is everybody has the right to interpret His Majesty’s words to back their views, and there is nothing wrong with that. But it does not help to drag the discussion back to square one on whether to secularise of Islamise the State! It sounds like we are redefining the defined, while overlooking the fact that the basic concept of the Civil State dictates that it is neither religious nor military, but an all-inclusive State that provides all social components the space of freedom to preserve their rights.

Taking us back to ground zero on this discussion, however, does mean that the discussion has all in all derailed from the King’s very proposition to reconstruct the State that is governed by the Rule of Law, its roots, and implementation, to rid us from the illnesses of bureaucracy; Wasta and favouritism, which in turn cripple and weaken the State of Law. Contrary to that, the implementation of a system that ensures equal opportunity and justice would positively contribute to the building a real civil Jordan, through addressing deformations that were inflicted to the official process by official, societal, and individual violations.

Nonetheless, it is the right of each of us to have their own political colour, social, and cultural views, as well as to believe in whatever they want. The most important thing, however, is that the debate is maintained with respect, and in a more middle ground that is equally distant from all extremes and opposite ends. That is to say that the goal is to shrink the area of dispute, in order to preface the arrival at converging points that would constitute the reliable basis for plurality, and the sustenance of variety, and opinion, despite the scale of difference and dispute.

Away from definitions and descriptions, the crucial thing at the moment is that we should emerge from this unto the phase of implementation, through a thorough transformation into a real civil state that accepts all ideologies and ideas, while excluding no one, and making sure no certain colour is enforced on another. This is quite an achievement, that would possible be the best thing Jordan has done so far; at least so that proponents of the Civil State are not accused of blasphemy or infidelity.