Community violence a ticking time bomb — officials


— Experts and officials on Monday agreed that societal violence, if not properly addressed, will become a time bomb threatening every individual in Jordan. They reached this conclusion during a one-day event, titled “Societal Violence... Societal Security”, where participants blamed a lack of social justice for the majority of violent incidents in the country. “One of the main reasons for social violence is the feelings of injustice and inequality among individuals when it comes to education and health rights,” Interior Minister Hussein Majali said. The lack of transparency when it comes to employment and acceptance at universities is also adding to their frustration, Majali told participants. The minister, who acted as patron at the event, also blamed the rising rates of poverty and unemployment that “provided the proper circumstances for spreading violence”. The one-day event was organised by the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) and the Jordan River Foundation (JRF). Social Development Minister Reem Abu Hassan, who agreed with Majali on the reasons behind social violence, also listed other factors during the morning session. “In addition to the economic factor, I believe that the low numbers of political participation in unions, political parties, clubs and societies is contributing to the social violence we are witnessing,” Abu Hassan said. She added that there is also a hidden factor that contributes “to violence in our society... which is the loss of identity”. NCFA Secretary General Fadel Hmoud stressed the need to cling to the national constants “of our society that unite us and preserve our heritage and history, and we reject any attempts to drag us backwards”. Turning to social violence, Hmoud noted that “this phenomenon has become a source of terror and concern to every father and mother and God knows when and where it will explode”. “Today we gather to say ‘let us not be silent or negative’. We should sound the alarm bell and analyse this phenomenon from all its aspects and come up with practical recommendations to address it.” The event aimed to analyse acts of violence occurring in the country from a social, economic and legal angle and work on finding a comprehensive solution. It also sought to formulate a national strategy in collaboration between private and public institutions to tackle the causes of violence all over the Kingdom. In his speech, JRF Director General Ghaleb Al Qudah focused on the youth sector since “more than half the population in Jordan is under the age of 25”. Young Jordanians face many challenges including unemployment, poverty and the potential to engage in dangerous acts due to increased economic and social pressure, Qudah said, noting that “we lack a comprehensive system that caters to this sector”. “We as officials should ask ourselves how we can help young people access good opportunities, resources and knowledge so they will not lose hope or trust,” he added. Feelings of frustration among young Jordanians, especially in the economic sector, Qudah said, will “rob them of their positive energy and detonate their anger, which will be directed towards their society, thus weakening the community and threatening the security and stability of their nation”. Meanwhile, Governor Mamdouh Daja presented a paper detailing some of the reasons behind societal violence such as the weak role of the family in focusing on proper education and upbringing. He also cited the tribal reaction to cases of murder that results in brawls and social disturbance. In addition, Daja listed the random use and spread of arms and live ammunition, especially automatic weapons, as a reason for increased violence. Turning to campus violence, he pointed to several reasons for the rising number of brawls, including the rejection of student council election results and the weak implementation of penalties against violators by university administrations. “The riots we see at universities are also caused by long free periods between lectures and the weak role of academic counsellors,” Daja noted.