Murad writes about the notion of one step forward, several steps backwards when it comes to progress in Jordan. We must examine the Societies law, which hinders progress for Jordan’s civil society and NGO’s that play a vital role in this country. This is an attack even on the notion of democratization. What is needed in the Arab world–in Jordan as well–is more of an understanding of the importance of volunteerism and a deeper understanding of citizenship. Democracy is not only about elections, it’s about increasing critical thinking and analysis in our education system, it’s instilling tools to empower men and women, it’s about increasing knowledge of what an individual can achieve. I believe that reaching individuals, giving them the tools and the opportunity is very powerful. Instead, non-profits will be too busy getting buried in bureaucracy and favoritism. This is a disgraceful move by the Parliament.
And that’s my two cents.
What other motive could be behind the passing of a Societies Law that has evolved to become one of the most debilitating legislations, hindering the progress of civil society, social responsibility, volunteer work, corporate social responsibility and all the other terminologies we bandy about to indicate that Jordan is living in an era of citizen-for-citizen action and government-people partnership? We thought that the society was finally waking up to its role in building the country and that government supported and encouraged that role, but this law is now telling it to revert to its previous apathetic state where it was not an active participant in the plans for the country.
Let me retrace and explain. The Societies Law, which enforces government scrutiny of the fundraising activities of NGOs in Jordan, had been amended by the government after lengthy discussions with NGOs in Jordan to reach a workable formula – for the time being – that would allow the government to have its control, but would also allow the NGOs to function.
This is really one of those situations where that favourite saying “the world has reached Mars but look at where we are” is really very apt.