Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Jordan bans protests|
|10/07/00 at 19:36:20|
|From: Islamic Association For Palestine <Iapinfo@i...>|
Date: Sat Oct 7, 2000 8:37am
Subject: IAP-Net: A report from the street battles of Amman
A report from the street battles of Amman
Editor of the Free Arab Voice (http://www.fav.net)
1) Dissecting Hypocritical Rhetoric:
I had heard through the grape vine that many activists will be attending
Friday prayer at the Calouti Mosque in al Rabiyeh because that was the
closest mosque to the Zionist Embassy in Amman. The idea was to instigate a
march to the embassy after Friday sermon is done. The Muslim Brotherhood had
called in the papers, in big font, for Friday prayers to be held somewhere
else (very far away from al Rabiyeh). But al Calouti Mosque in al Rabiyeh
had today a couple of thousand more believers than the usual hundreds. By
the time Friday sermon was over, there were many more waiting in the wings:
men and women wanting to pray for a revolution.
I don't usually pray in mosques or observe prayers, but this time I did. My
friends joked that the Intifada was going to make a good Muslim out of me.
So be it. I'll believe in anything that could take us closer to eradicating
the Zionist Embassy in Amman. But the Friday sermon was a typical example of
what my friends call the Islam of the Sultans, and what I call hypocritical
rhetoric. The preacher spoke up at length against Zionists, Arab regimes,
and oppression. Citing the biography of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW), he even
argued that Zionists only understand the language of force and that Arab
leaders are wimps who are too chicken to speak that language. But when it
came to taking a stand, he took the wrong one. The preacher told the people
that marches and demonstrations were a 'western custom', and that it would
do us no good to adopt these un-Islamic habits. He told the people listening
to him that they should adopt God instead and just go home in peace. In the
second sermon, this point was emphasized again. Ask God to grant us the
forbearance to withstand what's happening to us, the second preacher said.
He swore up and down that he was not saying that we shouldn't demonstrate
because he was afraid or because the government asked him to. He said that
it would do us no good to eliminate the embassy from Jordan anyways.
According to him, the people should focus on becoming better Muslims
instead. What a travesty that was! All I could think about was how religion
was being used as an opiate for the people.
2) The Islam of the People:
Not a second passed after the Friday sermon was over, before people have
even had the chance to put their shoes back on, when chanting erupted and
lines formed. The battle was on. It was a classic case of the schism between
the opportunism of intellectuals/scholars and the spirit of the people. It
was as if the people believed in a different God from that of the two
preachers, and the faith of the people was the true one. I realized how wise
our people are for letting the hypocritical and fake intellectuals/preachers
say what they want, and then do what they the people want. Then as the
people marched in the direction of the Zionist embassy in Amman, they
chanted: "There is no God but Allah!", and "Allah, Palestine, and Jerusalem
is Arab". There were two Jordanian (non-mainstream) Islamic leaders in the
march, Ali Abu Assukkar, and Laith Shubeilat, and hundreds of rank and file
Islamists, but there wasn't a single well-known opposition figure otherwise.
There were also supporters of Fateh/ Intifadah, a few supporters of the
PFLP, and many non-mainstream leftists. There were also a handful of
intellectuals on the nationalist/leftist side. There were many students,
young people, and women not affiliated with any group. And all of the above
fought the street battles that lasted for several hours today together.
3) The Heat:
The people marched in the thousands. Turning right from the mosque, they
marched about a few hundred yards. But just when they reached the point
after which they had to go up a steep hill, massive troops emerged at the
top of the hill and the games began. We charged uphill but security forces
responded with a barrage of tear gas bombs. The gas hovered like a cloud of
poison over the bottom of the hill. Many people fainted, threw up, or
suffered temporary blindness. But the chanting continued. The people
scattered as the troops charged down the hill halfway, then they regrouped.
And the clashes lasted for several hours. When the troops attacked, the
people retreated. When they retreated, the people regrouped. In the midst of
hues of gas, stone throwers would sneak in as close as possible to the
troops to strike. Demonstrators and security men took turns at sneaking in
through the alleys either to throw stones or ambush the stone throwers. Our
people carry the wisdom of hundreds of years of oppression. They never
chanced a direct battle of steel against flesh. But each time security men
thought the demonstration was over with, the people would regroup from
nowhere to commence the chanting, the stone throwing, and the drive to reach
the Zionist embassy, the drive to cleanse Arab land from Zionist filth.
Cameramen and news crews were beaten up or had their films destroyed or
confiscated by security men. In the meantime, the streets leading up to the
Zionist embassy turned into a virtual war zone. Clouds of gas, ad hoc
roadblocks, fires, choppers circling the scene, the injured laying on the
sidewalks, and the shrieks of women and men to hold steady in the face of
oppression with calls of Allahu Akbar (God is Greater!), which IN THAT
CONTEXT reveals the true meaning of the Islam of the people, not that of the
Sultans or the hypocrites, were all the backdrop of the campaigns to charge
up or downhill, depending on which side you were on.
Security men had the advantage, not just because of their hardware, their
helmets, see-thru shields, guns that fire tear gas bombs, masks, and their
clubs. They had the advantage also because they were uphill, and we were
downhill. The abc of military engagement teaches us that one should never
charge an enemy uphill, or stand in the way of an enemy charging downhill.
It's all about momentum. In this case in point, the stones had a harder time
reaching up, and the hundreds of tear gas bombs thrown down at us formed a
stale cloud at the bottom of the hill surrounded by two columns of
Still, the battles continued. The people residing in the neighborhood of the
Zionist embassy kept giving water, tissues, onions (to counter the effects
of the tear gas), and sanctuary to the demonstrators. Battle lines
stabilized temporarily at different points of the hill leading up to the
Zionist embassy throughout all this. But the demonstration went on. After
several hours, it boiled down to a hardcore of a few hundred demonstrators
versus troops reinforced with tanks.
4) The Grand Finale:
Two tanks suited for occasions just these were protruding like the eyes of
an owl over each side of the two-way street in al Rabiyeh leading up and
down to and from the Zionist embassy. Behind and beside them, several
columns of security men wielding clubs and tear gas guns, and hiding behind
helmets and shields loomed like doomsday. When these started charging
downhill, a university student voiced a call for afternoon prayer. Right in
the midst of the rubble and the smoke, many of the demonstrators formed
columns to pray. In the meantime, dozens of young men and women half-way
uphill were waving Palestinian flags and exchanging stone throwing with
soldiers, including a few Christian Jordanian female university students
that I know personally. The tanks charged downhill. The dozen or so brave
demonstrators closest to them countered with stones. Then when the prayer
lines formed in the midst of the rubble, the sweat, and the tears, at the
bottom of the hill, the tanks retreated. The security troops, however, shot
a couple of tear gas bombs right in the midst of the prayer lines. Poisonous
fumes spread like evil in the columns. But people kept bowing to God,
praying, weeping involuntarily, with eyes shut, and faces flushed. Tear gas
was defeated before God. But which will God accept more, the sermons of the
hypocritical preachers, or the prayer of these guys?!
A woman walked up the hill alone and started chanting: "Muslim soldier, why
are you protecting the Zionists?!". A throng followed her in the chant,
including leftists, nationalists, and brother and sisters in arms. Prayer
was over. "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar", the people chanted. God is greater!
The tanks charged down followed by the troops. This time they went all the
way across the roadblocks and fires. The demonstrators kept retreating while
countering with stones, all the way down to the mosque of al Calouti, while
fighting back with stones.
My eyes are still tearing from the gas. In one of the charges uphill, I was
hit with a tear gas bomb directly right above my left ankle, so I could not
run very well. When the troops and the tanks charged down, they spread tear
gas all over before them, so I suffered temporary blindness as well.
Groping, I found my way, however, to the entrance of a building. There were
two other guys hiding there. A resident took us in. But suddenly we found
ourselves stuck behind enemy lines. It was as if I was meant to see what
others could not. I went up to the roof of that building to wait, watch, and
learn. The troops started going into adjacent houses in search of
demonstrators hiding there. They sent in German shepherd dogs to flush out
demonstrators from hiding places. When caught, the residents of the house
and the demonstrators would be beaten up on their extremities with clubs,
and then they would be arrested, whether male or female. On the roof I found
hiding with us also two correspondents for al Jazeera TV satellite channel,
who were very afraid for their cameras. They already had their tapes
confiscated. They were too afraid to film. Choppers were hovering over us.
Guys who were caught were beaten savagely in the street then canned.
Employees from the City of Amman came immediately to clean up the mess.
Women who tried to save a demonstrator getting beaten by several policemen
had German shepherd dogs turned on them in the front yard of their house.
Several guys would still appear from the alleys to throw stones at the
troops. I saw guys getting punched and smacked inside the police vans
carrying them to jail.
Luckily though, the troops didn't go into the building we were hiding at. We
were saved by women hanging outside the building, who looked way too
upper-middle class to have anything to do with what was going on. But all in
all, it was a good day. After all, revolutions are the feasts of the
oppressed. Yet what happened to us was not only about Palestine. It's also
about the state in the age of globalization.
October 6, 2000
Editor of the Free Arab Voice (http://www.fav.net)
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