“Islam is the Solution”: How Extremist Political Islam Feeds on the Failures of Secular Arabs

The revival of Islam as a political force in the 1970s is a sociopolitical phenomenon that is often difficult to understand. Much to the confusion of many, the Islamic resurgence took place after waves of modernization, secularism, and nationalism hit the Arab World. In this essay, I argue that extremist strands of both political Islam and Islamic fundamentalism have and continue to gain traction in the Arab world due to continued failures of the state: in the Arab Israeli conflict, in providing for its people, and in exercising sovereignty without foreign influence

Background

There are a number of terms that are relevant to the understanding of modern Islamist movements in the Arab World. Political Islam, or sometimes Islamism, refers to “Islam as a political ideology rather than as a religious or theological construct.” Political Islam can range from moderate to extreme, but in all cases, its adherents hold the belief that “Islam as a body of faith has something to say about how politics and society should be ordered in the contemporary Muslim world” (Ayoob, 2004, p. 1). Islamic fundamentalism is a closely related—but highly debated—term, describing a certain strand of political Islam. Islamic fundamentalism is often understood in the context of political Islam; indeed, many scholars use both terms interchangeably to indicate a religious-political belief that the return to the fundamentals of the Islamic tradition is the key to political and socioeconomic prosperity, following the failures of secular, modernist, and nationalist movements (Esposito, 2000, pp. 49-59).

Islamic fundamentalism can also be understood independent of Political Islam, as a belief advocating returning to the origins of Islam and the Islamic tradition from the days of the Prophets and the Righteous Caliphs. That is, a belief of Islamic revivalism that “advocates a return to what is perceived as a lost purity in religious practice”. Islamic fundamentalism contrasts with Islamic modernism, which does not rely on a literal interpretation of the Quran, instead seeking to preserve the spirit of the Quran in a modern social context (Andersen, et al., 2011, pp. 147-8).

Within Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic extremists refers to those “who would use violent or coercive means to implement a fundamentalist Islamic political agenda.” (Andersen, et al., 2011, p. 147) When discussing the rise and salience of Islamic fundamentalism, this essay will use a ‘liberal’ interpretation of the term to refer to extremist strand Islamic fundamentalism, consistent with common everyday use of the term. Furthermore, Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic extremism implicitly imply a belief in political Islam; this is understood by the origins of the modern Islamic revival.

Islamic Resurgence and Revival

Movements of political Islam, Islamic fundamentalism, and Islamic extremism, though not identical in meaning, are closely coupled and follow the same trends in terms of emergence, popularity, and spread. While Islamic fundamentalism is not new, political Islam is a modern phenomenon rooted in the sociopolitical conditions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Ayoob, 2004, p. 2). The rise of political Islam led to the rise (or, rebirth) of the rest of the spectrum of Islamist movements, including fundamentalism and extremism. This is because as political Islam gained traction, its adherents followed contending beliefs in realizing its vision. The rise of political Islam, and therefore the rebirth of the entire spectrum of movements into mainstream social and political circles, took places in what is known as the Islamic revival or resurgence, taking place in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Esposito, 2000, p. 50).

Some believe that “there is a connection between the decline of Arab unity as a symbol and the rise of Political Islam.” Indeed, “as Arab unity was becoming increasingly discredited through the years, especially after 1967, new paths were sought.” (Andersen, et al., 2011, pp. 77-8). In the same spirit as my main thesis, I argue that the birth of political Islam was indeed a result of the failures of the secular Arab state.

A series of crises since the late 1960s has discredited many regimes and Western inspired modernization paradigms, triggering the politics of protest and a quest for greater authenticity. The resulting call for an Islamic alternative has been reflected in slogans such as “Islam is the solution” and “Neither West nor East.” —John Esposito, (Esposito, 2000, p. 50)

Beginning with the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, the failures of Arab Nationalism and Secularism frustrated many Arabs. Further events, including the growth of armed resistance the Arab-Israeli conflict, sectarian conflict in the Lebanese civil war, and the success of the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution all contributed to discredit secularism and modernism, in favor of an Islamic movement. Indeed, Esposito argues that “modernism has been perceived as a form of neocolonialism, an evil that supplants religious and cultural identity”  (Esposito, 2000, p. 50).

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Conflict Begets Conflict: the evolution of Arab attitudes, policies, and strategies in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Since its beginnings, the Arab-Israeli Conflict has been through several phases of distinctive characteristic foreign policies, political attitudes, and strategies. Through a number of monumental defining events—including the major wars—shifts in policies, strategies, and attitude took place, marking transition between these phases. In this essay, I argue that the climate of the Arab-Israeli Conflict can be characterized by four historic phases after an initial period of indecision: Arab Nationalism and Defiance, Resistance and Refusal, Palestinian Armed Resistance, and then a Phase of Contradictions, starring two Arab camps with a widening gap, one entering the Peace, Negotiation, and Reconciliation phase, and the other entering the Islamic Resistance phase.

Background: Setting the Stage

The Palestine Question was a concern to the Middle East and International Community since the 1920s. The Arab response to the Zionist movement wad under debate in the period, and was first solidified in 1948 with the Israeli Declaration of Independence and the Arab War the next day.

Contending Visions

After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Arab intellectuals responded differently to the Jewish immigration movement, Zionism, and news of the Balfour Declaration.

One camp of Arabs was the Hashemites, who had aspirations for a unified pan-Arab Kingdom. Faisal is a noteworthy example; writing that Arabs and Jews are “cousins in race”, and stating he “looks with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement.” (Friedman, 2000, p. 228) Furthermore, in Article III of the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement of 1919, Faisal, as the representative of the Arabs, agrees to the Balfour Declaration, and commits to the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, “provided the Arabs obtain their independence as demanded […]” (Smith, 2009, pp. 98-9).

Other Arab nationalists, however, viewed Faisal as a traitor for “abandoning Palestine”. Though Smith points out that Faisal’s agreement was based on the fact that “the Jews did not propose to set up a government of their own but wished to work under British protection to colonize and develop Palestine without encroaching on any legitimate interests.”  (Smith, 2009, p. 78) Indeed, Balfour’s vague statement promised the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, not to reconstitute Palestine as a Jewish state.

Still, other Arab Nationalists vehemently opposed such discourse with Zionists. Many clashes within Palestine took place between Arab and Jewish groups over considerations including land, freedom of religion, and an Arab belief that the Zionists and Jews were encroaching on their rights. Such clashes began with the Western Wall Riots of 1929 (Smith, 2009, p. 129).

Within Palestine, two distinctive families of urban notables lead public opinion. One such family with the Nashashibis, a wealthy and notable family of Jerusalem that included, amongst others, Raghib Nashashibi, who was the Mayor of Jerusalem between 1920 and 1934 (Jewish Virtual Library, n.d.). The Nashashibis were known to be friendlier to the Jewish communities and more flexible in terms of dealing with Zionism, compared to other groups (Smith, 2009, p. 113).

Another family is the Husseinis, of whom Hajj Amin Al-Husseini was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Husseini opposed Nashashibi and was more anti-Zionist in sentiment. Husseini continued to drift away from Nashashibi’s attitude, eventually forging a relationship with German Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler, and adopting a similar, albeit more dilute, anti-Semitic rhetoric. (Smith, 2009, p. 176)

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Jordan’s Revolution: is the unnecessary inevitable?

I have always believed that the Jordanian regime — here meaning the king, and the king alone — is genuine in its hopes for reform, and is capable of achieving a slow but solid transformation to a reformed democratic state. My thoughts on this haven’t changed.

But I am beginning to have concerns that all of that might be futile and altogether irrelevant, given the current conditions on the ground.

Since the political process is an interplay between the rulers and the populous, a failure of either party to participate is a failure of the system.

My thesis is simple: is a significant segment of the Jordanian populous cynical enough that it no longer has the patience nor the will to positively respond to gradual political reforms? To me, it seems plausible.

We have been hearing of many reformist and opposition parties declare their boycott of the coming elections under the new (and slightly improved) election law. The big one here is the Islamic Action front, the political branch of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, who seemingly defacated on Gandhi’s saying “be the change you want to see in the world” (excuse the language), and instead opted to not work towards reform, instead only participate in governance once an already-reformed Jordan is handed to them on a silver plate.

The truth is, no election law can produce a respectable, representative parliament if people and parties boycott the elections. I also feel that no election law can be produced under the current conditions to yield a different result.

The current system is capable of producing a solid, straight path to a reformed state, some few years from now. The fuel that would allow us to move along that path is popular participation. We need people to vote and participate in each iteration of the political system, which will each, in turn, spur out a new system that is marginally better.

Or not. Another option would be an abrupt jump towards reform. An abrupt jump is another word for “top-down reform”, reform that is initiated and executed by those who are in control of the system and imposed on the populous (willingly or unwillingly). “Those in control” here would be either the king, or some revolutionary authority.

I have always observed that we are a very cynical people, in our part of the world, and we are not getting any less cynical in this year-long Spring.

Are we cynical enough that the first option is no longer on the table — that slow, controlled, iterated, and organic reform is no longer viable? Are we only left with the second option on the table?

Embarassing Failure from Ammon?

This must be a joke, but it might not be. A few hours ago, Ammon News published this article on their front page:
http://www.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleno=120314

It claims that a British model, Katie Price Jordan, is suing Jordan, the country, for a billion dollars, for using her name, even though she is more notable. Funny story. But also false. The article initially appeared in satirical online article “the spoof” in 2009 (http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s3i60018), and then appeared in the Pan Arabian Inquirer under the “SATIRE” section on May 11 2012 ((http://www.panarabiaenquirer.com/wordpress/katie-price-to-sue-hashemite-kingdom-of-jordan/). There is no instance of the story anywhere else that I could find.

How can I believe any article published by Ammon about Jordan’s nuclear plans or political reform, if they are incapable of verifying the correctness of an article as straightforward as this one. An article that 21-year-old-me managed to prove wrong in less than an hour, while procrastinating between essay writing and finals studying.

I hope this is an April fool’s joke, a month and a half late.

Jordan in Numbers

In Jordan, hard facts are not commonly used, unfortunately. As I described at an earlier post, Jordan has a big social problem of bigotry and over-confidence is politics.  Many statements are given about the deteriorating status of living, which is true and sad in many cases, but are often expanded and generalized to say that nothing good has come out of the establishment. This is not true. Jordan has real problems: We have political problems, from the external climate of the Middle East, to internal marginalization. We have social problems, and problems in education, and problems in corruption, and a poor economic situation, etc. But things are getting better, and to say that the establishment has not done anything would be an injustice.

This is not to say that all is well: we are a long way to go, and we should obviously demand more from the establishment. We should also demand less marginalization, and to be included in the process. But to fool ourselves and say that we are living in a system where the Establishment is trying to keep is weak and poor would be an unjust, unfounded, and disheartening act.

This is a look at the last ten years King Abdullah II’s reign as the Kingdom’s head of state.

Can some of these developments be associated to the potential positive sum nature of the world, technology, etc.? Yes. But take a look at the data, collected from a number of sources, and decide for yourself if it shows the possibility of a benign, well-intentioned establishment.

Information is taken from the CIA Factbook (referenced CIA for short), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Ministry of Finance of Jordan (MOF). Currencies are either in dollar ($ / USD), or in Jordanian Dinars (JD / JOD), and are indicated.

Nor all numbers are necessarily useful; GDP for instance is often criticized for not being a good metric of a country’s economic situation. Keep this in mind while viewing.

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According to Abdullah II’s book, Jordan exports to the US shot up from “virually nothing to $18 million in 1998”. Under Abdullah’s negotiations, this number rose to $1 billion in 2009.

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Debt as a percentage of the GDP continues to drop. After it reached below 60% of the GDP around 2008, a new policy was adopted that indicated that public debt shall never go above 60%. Initial reports indicate that we are about to hit that mark now, a very concerning sign. But people forget we are in a global recession; things are indeed very concerning, but some people assume that the establishment has worsened our situation. Looking back at 2002, where public debts’ percentage of the GDP was in the high 90s, it puts things in perspective.

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Public and External debts in Jordan shown as an absolute number in JOD. These numbers are contemporary and not adjusted for inflation. As such, if adjusted for inflation, one would probably see a more level Public Debt graph up to 2011, and slowly declining external debts.

 

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Continue reading “Jordan in Numbers”

Let Me Speak My Mind: a Trend of Political Bigotry in Jordan?

I have not written anything in this blog in a long time. I have tried to start writing many times, but I never could finish. I have been, for the past few months, increasingly frustrated with the stiuation in Jordan; while the government is doing some right moves, politically, I became largely frustrated with the wave of bigotry that has swept our society off its feet. Bigotry in politics is almost deeply enthralled in the hearts and minds of many Jordanians, across classes, political views, roles, and perspectives.

Pro-Government protesters are bigoted against Pro-Reform protesters, considering them unthankful, unpatriotic “scum”.

Pro-Reform protesters are themselves bigoted against Pro-Government protesters, thinking they are government-funded thugs who want ot beat them.

Pro-Government media is bigoted agaisnt many political movements, consdiering them outside-fundedp lots against our security.

Anti-Government media is even more bigoted: against the government, police, and their supporters. Every policy is an evil plot, every anti-Government journalist is a hero, every incident is an attack, every violence is targetting thme, and every politician is corrupt.

Events are blown out of proportion at times, and are silenced at others. Every Jordanian reads the news they agree with, and stop: never the opposite perspectives. Our opponents’ political view does not exist. Our opponents’ perspectives are always unfounded. Our rivals are always bigoted, nonsensical, idiots, and fools–never us.

We need a national dialogue, yet all we do is push each other around. Videos of our protests are sad scenes of people yelling at people, fighting with others, and never listening. Never mind that some are reporters and other are policemen, neverm ind that some are politicians and others are activists, all act the same: Like the stereotypical impulsive man, violent, angry, bigoted, and never listens.

I try to go both ways, sometimes criticize the government, and at others support it, depending on what I think (though recently I admit I am doing more support than criticize, but I’m convinced I’m still rational about it). Yet, whenever I criticize, or express the need for a reform, I am called naive by some, and anti-Jordanian by others. And when I express that I don’t think the government was wrong in X, or that the government is doing the right thing in Y, I am either uneducated or have some sort of interest.

After debates with some, I often hear that people are surprised how there is someone smart who thinks differently. So let me be very clear:

People subscribe to all sorts of thoughts, beliefs, and views. Some views might be better than others, but all are debatable. Nothing is obviously true, and very little is obviously false. Most of those who subscribe to views possess a well-thought, legitimate reason, and many philosophical arguments, that lead them to possess a view. No view, belief, or side is exclusively more intelligent or just. My view can still be better than yours, and I will continue to defend it with confidence, but never condescension.

Political reform is essential, but the society must also rise up. We need a new atmosphere where one is not ridiculed for speaking his mind.

Journalism and Editorialism are Still Lacking…

A comment on a recent article by Basil Rafai’a that appeared on Ammonnews here:

مقالة ركيكة بعيدة عن المنطق، مع الأسف.

لا نستطيع أن نوصف الموقف بالمثير للشبهة إذا قال ناطق “ما حدث” بدل “زعرنة”، فعلى الناطق الرسمي للأمن العام أن يتكلم بحيادية وقد قام بذلك. لا يجب علينا أن نطالب ناطق باسم الأمن العام بأن يستخدم مصطلحات منحازة كمصطلحاتنا.

وعلى كل حال، توجد صور، ولكن الصور غير كافية. المرتكبون “مجهولين” حتى تعرف اسماؤهم ومواقعهم ويتم القبض عليهم.

أرجو أن يقوم رئيس التحرير بتدقيق أكثر جودة في المرات القادمة.

Irresponsible Editorialism

The most irresponsible article opinion piece I’ve ever seen, by far was on Ammon today, entitled “The Cost of 15 mins in the bathroom“, poking fun at the government’s restriction of general internet access to increase productivity. The article goes as follows:

By government calculations, the cost of each employee spending 15 minutes in the bathroom would reach JD 17.5 million per year.

The idea, of course, alluding to the government’s calculations of 1 hour spent by government employees browsing the Internet costs the government JD 70 million per year, leading Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s government to block access to over 48 websites from the internal network at all ministries and public agencies.

The logic is purely flawed. Browsing the computer while working is a non-essential activity and a waste of time. It is a distraction. Going to the bathroom is an essential need for an employee and helps them be in a better condition to do their task.

I hope AmmonNews engages in more responsible editorialism in the future, pointing out issues that actually matter, instead of attacking the government for good moves.

الصحافة المدللة: فن التذمر في الوقت الخاطئ

أثناء قراءة احد احدث المقالات على موقع عمّون الأخباري، تملكني العجب تجاه نزعة التذمر في الوقت الخاطئ ومن دون حق. المقالة بعنوان “الوزير المدلل” وتناقش بعض سياسات وتوجهات وزير الاتصالات وتكنولوجيا المعلومات مروان جمعه، خصوصاً خطوة حجب بعض المواقع الالكترونية عن موظفين الدوائر الحكومية في الدوائر أثناء ساعات العمل. وجهت الصحافة اتهامات ورد جمعة عليها بحقائق وأرقام وبيانات مقنعة، فإذ تفاجأت بأن أرى “الصحافة” ترد على جمعة بعبارات غير مدروسة وغير منطقية (الأمر الذي يسمى الـ”مغالطة الشكلية”).

قبل المضي قدماً، أود التأكيد على احترامي لمهنة الصحافة بشكل عام، والصحافة الأردنية بشكل خاص، وأن تهجمي على بعض الممارسات غير موجهة للصافة الأردنية بأكملها.

والأمر العجيب أن الاتهامات والـ”إهانات” الموجهة لجمعة ليست بالإهانات الحقيقية، وهي في الواقع ليست أمور سلبية، إلا أنها وجّهت بضوء سلبي ووراء عدسة ساخرة لتبدو كأنها انتقادات حقيقية…

اتهم جمعة بأنه وزير “مدلل” لأن منهاجيته وطريقه عمله في العمل العام تشبه طريقة العمل في القضاء الخاص، واتهم بأن لديه “عقلية البزنس” ولذلك فهو “بالطبع” غير ملائم ليكن وزير فعال في القطاع العام.

العجب هنا أن المتخصصين يتفقون بأن الكثير من عادات إدارة القطاع الخاص يجب تطبيقها في القطاع العام لتحسين جودة الخدمات. مثال عليها هو استخدام مبدأ “الهيكل التنظيمي” في القطاع العام بعد أن ثبتت ميزته في القطاء الخاص، وطرق الدفع بالساعات، واستخدام الدعاية والاعلانات لنشر وعي “المستهلك” (هنا، المواطن)، الخ…

الإنتاجية هو الأهم في القطاع العام، والإناجية أيضاً في بالغ الأهمية في القطاع الخاص، وبحسب دراسات وأرقام وحقائق، نعلم بأن الحاسوب قد يضر الانتاجية عندما يستخدم كأداة “استجمام” أو “لعب” يستخدمها الموظف الحكومي وموظف الشركة للفت انتباههم عن العمل.

وإذا فأمر جمعة بحجب بعض المواقع الاخبارية والشخصية ذات الشعبية في الدوائر، وغير المتعلقة بالعمل، وهي — كما أكد جمعة ذاته — ممارسة شائعة في العديد من الشركات وفعاليتها مثبتة.

الصحافة تتذمر بطول “الطوابير” في الدوائر الحكومية، وكثرة الانتظار، وعدم التركيز فيها، وكثرة الاخطاء الممكن تجنبها (ومعها حق هنا) — ولكن لا تحسبوا أن في هذا التذمر رغبة للتغيير والتحسين (فالتذمر موضة وفن)، بل اعلم أن في هذا التذمر رغبة للتذمر فقط لا غير، وإذا أعربت الحكومة أو دائرة حكومية عن رغبتها في معالجة الوضع الراهن، والتغيير والتحسين، فتعود الاسطوانة المكسورة بالدوران، والتذمر، والتذمر، إلا أن التذمر الآن… من غير حق.

Cyberspace Crime Law: Concerns, Reassurances, and Thoughts

Jordan’s ICT Ministry published the text of the latest Cyberspace Crime Law recently, introducing some regulation, but also protection and possible restrictions to the largely unregulated IT sector in Jordan. The law is a major step forward for privacy and security, creating punishments for unauthorized access of all types, as well as unauthorized modification of data, etc. But the text of the law at certain articles is vague, providing multiple possibilities of interpretation and thus some concerns.

Note that I translated all relevant snippets from Arabic to English myself, and I am by no means qualified to give a proper legal translation or correct legal terminology. It is only done for the sole purpose of giving context to non-Arabic readers and not to be taken seriously as correct technical interpretations.

Concerns

Article 8 is probably the greatest possible concern, stating:

المادة8- كل من قام قصداً بإرسال أو نشر بيانات أو معلومات عن طريق الشبكة المعلوماتية أو أي نظام معلومات تنطوي على ذم أو قدح أو تحقير أي شخص يعاقب بغرامة لا تقل عن (100) مائة دينار ولا تزيد على (2000) ألفي دينار.

Translated:

Article 8- Any person who has, on purpose, sent or published figures or information via the Web or any other network to vilify or slander or insult any person is punished by a fine no less that one hundred Jordanian Dinars and no more than two thousand Jordanian Dinars.

In theoretical terms, the article is actually healthy, as it legitimizes the Internet as a normal continuation of a physical world, where accountability and responsibility still exists, and where the author or creator of information is still responsible for one’s words, just as one is in the physical world. The problem, however, is two-fold:

  1. The first problem is the general nature of the offense. While the article appears to target libel, slander, and defamation, however, the final (أو تحقير = or insult) is concerning as it might generalize the article to include all insults/attacks, as opposed to defamation/libel. A common requirement for defamation is that the claim is non-factual and communicated to those other than the defamed individual. The vague and general final term to describe the offense, might be interpreted to render these requirements moot. For instance, if an individual blogs about a government figure and sharply criticizes him with correct information, making valid corruption allegations, it is an insult in general but not libel/defamation. The lack of a specific meaning to the term used makes this concerning.
  2. The second problem, which is greater, is that it provides no context-requirement. For instance, the article doesn’t address articles only, or publications, or blogs, but “any communication”. I personally agree with subjecting online publications, articles, and even blogs to such article. I’d also agree with subjecting mass e-mails, or perhaps hall e-mails (i.e. person A sending e-mail to businessman B, slandering potential client/partner/employee C) (side not: provided no external monitoring by the government). However, when it comes to blog comments, online forums, chat websites, etc. I think such article becomes a violation of freedom of expression.

What do you think?

Article 9 also uses general terminology which I found open to much interpretation. Subsection (a) of Article 9 states:

المادة 9- أ- كل من أرسل أو نشر عن طريق نظام معلومات أو الشبكة المعلوماتية قصداً كل ما هو مسموع أو مقروء أو مرئي مناف للحياء موجه إلى أو يمس شخصا لم يبلغ الثامنة عشرة من العمر يعاقب بالحبس مدة لا تقل عن ثلاثة اشهر وبغرامة لا تقل عن (300) ثلاثمائة دينار ولا تزيد على (5000) خمسة ألاف دينار.

The article basically prohibits “indecent” materials that targets (or is accessible to) those below age of 18, as well as indecent material that affects those below age 18. The article supposedly refers to sexually indecent material, whether in writing, imagery, or video. The problem however is the social meaning for indecent may also be open to interpretation. Would it include an insult on religion? Would it include a religious debate? Someone claiming that Religion A is a fairy tale? Certainly by standards of our society these are considered indecent. Is that possible? I don’t think its a serious concern, but certainly more concise terminology (as achieved by sub-section B of the very same article) can help.

Article 13b+c are another concern, perhaps more valid than the previous one. 13b goes to state (truncated):

… يجوز لموظفي الضابطة العدلية ضبط الأجهزة والأدوات والبرامج والأنظمة والوسائل المستخدمة في ارتكاب أي من الجرائم المنصوص عليها أو يشملها هذا القانون والأموال المتحصلة منها والتحفظ على المعلومات والبيانات المتعلقة بارتكاب أي منها.

Basically stating that authorities have the right to possess or confiscate any equipment or tools or software or systems and “methods”  used to commit any of the mentioned offenses and retaining related information and data.

Sub-section c goes further:

ج- للمحكمة المختصة الحكم بمصادرة الأجهزة و الأدوات والوسائل وتوقيف أو تعطيل عمل أي نظام معلومات أو موقع الكتروني مستخدم في ارتكاب أي من الجرائم المنصوص عليها أو يشملها هذا القانون ومصادرة الأموال المتحصلة من تلك الجرائم والحكم بإزالة المخالفة على نفقة مرتكب الجريمة.

Translated:

c- Respective courts have the right to rule to confiscate equipment, tools, and methods, as well as terminate or disable any ICT system or Internet Website used to commit any of the crimes described and included in this Law, and the confiscation of funds obtained from these crimes, and ruling to remove the offense on the expense of those guilty.

Again, this is certainly important and valuable taking into consideration articles that refer to terrorism, national security, pornographic materials, etc. However, given the existence of Article 8, does any form of libel warrant the mere possibility of confiscation of servers or information. And given the concerns on the general nature of Articles 8 and 9, could such a procedure of confiscation of servers or retaining information be a restriction on internet freedom?

I am one who truly believes in the goodwill  of the government. As such, I am comfortable that the government will not take any extreme measures to make the worst of these concerns into truth, ever; however, I am still uncomfortable, and again the reason is two-fold:

  1. The potential for abuse is there. While right now the probability of such abuse is zero for all intents and purposes, the potential that such abuse would arise one day, by a future government or under different circumstances in the future, is there. And this can be easily circumvented.
  2. Some of these offenses, especially the ones mentioned above, will allow the general public to seek the judicial branch (article 17). Here, vagueness of some of the terms, as well as the possibility for interpretation, combined with the strong powers given to the court, creates greater potential for abuses by the public against owners of websites expressing themselves, facilitated by the courts.

Reassurances

The law finally provides protections to owners of websites and their users by restricting access to equipment, files, data, and information, addressing hacking, and providing a range of punishments depending on the nature of access violations. The term also refers to important cyber crimes, such as Article 11 which addresses those who attempt to use cyberspace to facilitate terrorist activities, subjecting these persons to hard labor.

Article 17 itself, while addressed in the concerns section, is a great step forward to make Jordan grow as a state of Law and Institutions, per the king’s vision. Article 17 reserves the general public’s right to seek justice for any violation personally through our legal institutions. With liberal and progressive interpretations of the laws, and care from the judicial branch, we will have a population that hold one another accountable, and a population that is responsible to one another on the internet, as it is in the “physical world”.