Queen Rania of Jordan is undoubtedly an international celebrity. Most of this is due to her marked beauty and taste for fine things. But her lavish lifestyle may soon come to end as Jordan is showing some signs that it could be the next Egypt or Tunisia.
Recent revolts, like the ones that took out Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and currently threaten Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, have been played out on the news all over the world. Many of us are watching with unease as the violence and chaos seem to spread.
Recent criticism of Queen Rania raises fears that perhaps Jordan will be next. The criticism of the "corruption" of the royal family and Rania, in particular, breaks with the taboo in the country where speaking against the royal family is punishable by a three-year prison sentence. According to AFP News:
"We call on the king to return to the treasury land and farms given to the Yassin family (of the queen). The land belongs to the Jordanian people," 36 tribal leaders said this week in a joint statement. By so doing, they have broken a taboo in the desert kingdom.
The tribes are no small faction, either. They are nearly 40 percent of Jordan's population and are crucial in terms of politics and stability, according to the AFP. "Their loyalty to the Hashemite ruling family has been crucial in times of crises in the past century."
What this means, only time will tell, but one thing is clear: it's scary.
"The events in Tunisia and Egypt have given courage to Jordanians to publicly say what they have been whispering about for a while," a political analyst told AFP on condition of anonymity. Arab peoples used to fear their authoritarian regimes. "Things have changed and now Arab leaders fear their peoples."
Queen Rania, the wife of King Abdullah II who serves as the head of a constitutional monarchy in which the King has a lot of power, has specifically been criticized for many reasons. These include her lavish lifestyle and her commitment to helping Palestinians come into the country, something many Jordanians fear will make Jordan a temporary homeland for Palestinians. According to Reuters:
Jordanian tribal figures have issued a petition urging King Abdullah to end his Palestinian wife's role in politics, in a new challenge to the monarch grappling with fallout from uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
If similar uprisings start in Jordan, there is no telling what could happen or how far this could all spread, but there is no doubt that we should all be paying pretty close attention. The more the unrest and violence spread, the more and more likely it is to affect all of us. Whatever the outcome is and however far it spreads, change is in the air and we all need to be aware.
Are you paying attention to the situation in the Middle East?
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