How "progressive" is Jordan now? New court ruling on veiled women may suggest otherwise....

Published March 23rd, 2014

The Jordanian Women’s Union, along with lawyers across the Hashemite Kingdom, expressed shock last week after a ruling discriminating against women who do not wear the Islamic hijab was issued by the Amman Sharia Court of Appeal, according to Al Medanah News.

The court announced late last week that it agreed with one lawyer's statement - based on a fatwa - that says a woman who does not cover up or wear a hijab is considered a “slut” and shouldn't be allowed to testify in court.

In response, The Women’s Union released a statement published on Amman net that describes the court’s decision as discrimination against women and a violation of the Jordanian Constitution, which considers all Jordanian men and women as equals.

“The Amman Sharia Court of Appeal has accepted the lawyer’s objection to a female witness from testifying for not wearing the hijab, which the court said would affect the fairness and honesty in her testimony from 3/2/2014.

According to the fatwa, which the court’s decision was based on, women who aren’t covered up are “sluts,” and that gives those women a bad name. Furthermore, the court was unable to support this fatwa apart from with something written in the introduction of a book by Egyptian Islamic Theologian Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi.

Seeing as this decision violates the provisions of the Jordanian Constitution which calls for equality between all Jordanians, and which protects their personal freedoms, we are demanding all the concerned parties to reconsider the mentioned decision above. Meanwhile we stress the following:

1. Women’s attire is a personal choice and no one should challenge it as long as they’re not breaking the law and stepping out of line. An attack on those freedoms is considered a crime and explicitly violates Article VII of the Constitution.
2. The court’s decision is an attack on women and their honesty and dignity, especially that the decision was made by the highest court in the religious judiciary.
3. The Personal status Law is unconstitutional as it affects the principle of equality as between men and women.
4. Making room for jurisprudence in courts is dangerous, and gives the judge the opportunity to rule according to his own beliefs.

The Women’s Union therefore demands the following:

1. Going back on the court’s decision to consider those who aren’t wearing the hijab as not fit or honest to testify in court.
2. We stress the importance of revising the Personal Status Law as it still discriminates against women."
Lawyers throughout the Kingdom have also expressed opposition to the ruling publicly, with some calling for wider scale protests and demonstrations.


Jordanian Parliament Supports Impunity For Honor Killings

(01/27/00) -- Human Rights Watch today condemned the failure of the Jordanian Lower House to end impunity for men who murder female family members in the name of preserving the "honor" of the family.

"For too long, men in Jordan have been getting away with murder," said Regan Ralph, executive director of the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. "This vote is a slap in the face of Jordanian women who have been organizing to stop the killings." Since August 1999, women's and human rights activists have gathered over 13,000 signatures calling for an end to honor killings. An estimated 25-30 women are killed in Jordan every year to protect family "honor."

This is the second time in two months that the Jordanian Lower House has failed to abolish Article 340 of the Penal Code, which provides for lenient sentences when men kill their female relatives in the name of "honor." Parliamentarians justified their defense of honor killings as protection of Jordan's traditional and moral values against western influences. The Upper House last month had agreed to abolish Article 340. The Upper and Lower Houses will meet for a final vote before the end of the parliamentary session in March.

Jordan is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which proscribe discrimination based on sex. The UN Committee on Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women criticized yesterday Jordan's performance on "honor" crimes.

Human Rights Watch further called on the Jordanian parliament to provide protection for women threatened by their family members on the basis of "honor," and to abolish other laws that discriminate against women, including the rape law, citizenship law, passport law, and social security law.


Jordanian Islamists blast Gadhafi, Turabi

AMMAN, Jordan, April 12 (UPI) -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's invitation to Christians and Jews to visit Mecca, Islam's holiest shrine, has sparked outrage among Jordanian Islamists.

The outlawed but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood Organization also blasted Sudanese Islamic leader Hassan al-Turabi for issuing edicts allowing Muslim women to wear a less rigid veil.

Salem Falahat, spiritual guide of the Brotherhood, whose political wing, the Islamic Action Front, controls the biggest opposition bloc in parliament, told United Press International Wednesday, "al-Turabi is condemned for issuing edicts rejected by any Muslim ulema."

Falahat said "we are used to President Gadhafi's crazes as he makes edicts as he pleases... He invited Christians and Jews to enter the grand mosque in Mecca although he knows that such a thing is prohibited by Islamic laws."

He argued that Gadhafi might have made such declarations "only to outrage the Saudi authorities due to his country's tense relations with Saudi Arabia."

Falahat said he believes there are political motives behind issuing the controversial edicts which contradict religious texts.

For his part, the head of the Shura Council of the Islamic Action Front, Hamza Mansour, said "the declarations made by certain Arab leaders and thinkers are strange and indicate a complete ignorance and submission to Western culture."