Sunday, May 28, 2006

Political unrest....at the university?

Universtiy life here is relatively normal - almost like BYU in lots of aspects - the girls dress modestly, there aren't any major problems, etc.. However, two weeks ago, life got crazy. Why? Student elections.

Anytime you mention the word elections in the Arab world, people go crazy. Even the student kind.

For a full two weeks, campus was plastered with signs and pamphlets calling for votes. "Vote for Mohammed!" "Vote for Mahmoud!" - stuff like that. The candidates then organized themselves into political parties - not the fake, arbitrary parties we do in America in school elections. These were extensions of actualy parties. One party was pro-Palestine and Hamas - another called for the unity of Jordanians and Palestinians (Palestinians in Jordan are treated like Mexicans in the southwest) - another called for a pure Jordanian state, or no Palestinians. Campaigning got more heated.

Demonstrations were held all day every day. Hordes of chanting people marched around campus, with the presidential candidate at the forefront, crying out their parties' positions. More often than not, anti-American, anti-British, and anti-Israel phrases were chanted in addition to the normal campaign slogans.

The day before the elections, the university administration disqualified one of the parties, the one calling for a pure Jordanian state, because of excessive demonstrating. So, the next morning, a riot broke out on campus. Police and military are not allowed on campus for some reason, so students and teachers had to stop it. For the rest of the day, though, campus was surrounded by armored cars, humvees with huge guns on top, a tank, and tons of men with machine guns to help calm the situation. Undercover police men were spread around campus to prevent any further disturbances.

I ate my lunch that day in front of the tank while students talked with the soldiers.

Cool, huh?

3 comments:

Anz Jones said...

hey buddy
I wish i got to see some riots etc. Everytime something like that happens over here im not allowed to go anywhere near it.
Oh well if it happens again get some photos.

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