U.S. ambassador ‘shocks’ Jordan’s Islamists with dabke dance

Envoy performed the dance after signing a $140 million deal to support development in Jordan

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Jordan’s Islamists on Monday criticized the U.S. ambassador in Amman for taking part in a dabke folk dance at the inauguration of a project, describing it as “shocking behavior.”

Following the opening of a $140 million (100 million euro) US-funded project in the northern governorate of Irbid last Thursday, envoy Stuart E. Jones joined officials and women in dancing a Jordanian dabke.

“It was shocking behavior for Jordanians who know very well that America and the Zionist entity (Israel) are two sides of the same coin,” the opposition Islamic Action Front party, the political arm of the kingdom’s Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement.

“We condemn such actions in our villages, and demand the government make sure diplomats adhere to their roles.”

Performed at weddings, parties and similar occasions, Dabke is a traditional dance in Arab countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Turkey as well as Israel and the Palestinian territories.

It has many versions, but generally dancers form a line facing an audience, hold hands, slightly lift their left feet and stamp to traditional music.

The U.S. embassy has said the five-year project in Irbid seeks to “support the rule of law, citizen engagement and participation, and civil society across the kingdom.”

Jordan, which has a 1994 peace treaty with Israel, is one of Washington’s key allies in the region and a major beneficiary of U.S. military and economic aid.