Today I came across the latest post of Mohammad Omar’s blog [Arabic Link] (which is one of the most interesting Arabic blogs in Jordan). He’s talking about the incidents at the demonstration in Al Rabieh neighborhood last Friday. The Gendarmerie forces clashed with the demonstrators, some of whom were beaten (not to mention the people who passed out due to tear gas). Amongst those beaten was Al Jazeera’s Amman bureau head Yaser Abu Hilaleh, who ended up in the hospital. His beating was well publicized, especially that he received a phone call from HM King Abdullah and was visited in the hospital by the Prime Minister and other officials. The security forces apologized for what happened. More about that incident is in Ammoun News (where you can read the story and over 300 comments on it).
Mohammad Omar, wrote about the story in an interesting way. He’s somewhat optimistic about the situation in Jordan, where demonstrations have been happening across the country daily since Israel’s war on Gaza started, yet life has not gotten disrupted and property has not been damaged (with a few minor exceptions). He contrasts the apology issued by the police to the situation in the early 1980s when student demonstrations where brutally put down by security forces with no apologies or anything. In short, he sees a certain progress in how society and the state function.
Mohammad Omar is a nuanced and critical observer. But what is also interesting is the kind of responses he gets from his readers. On this particular post, published today, he already received 30 comments of all shape and color, agreeing, disagreeing, criticizing and debating. A full spectrum of opinions. And at least one detailed eye witness report of what happened that Friday.
What is happening in Jordan, is the “mainstreaming” of interactive media. Blogs, forums and electronic newspapers have arrived in the mainstream, beyond the initial elitist circle of bloggers. The debate and the full spectrum of truth online is much more interesting and honest than what we see in print.