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Jordan’s Islamists, being unreasonable again

Jordanian Islamists called on the government to refrain from importing Egyptian clerics

Raed Omari

Published: Updated:

Jordanian Islamists’ silence for a considerable period of time was totally understood and, in fact, expected following the unfixable mega-mistakes of their Egyptian “brothers” and the consequences the latter caused and are still causing for the now-embattled Muslim Brotherhood’s international organization and its branches in the Arab world and elsewhere.

However, Jordanian Islamists’ long-held silence was broken recently with a call on the government to refrain from employing Egyptian clerics in Jordan’s mosques, warning against the possible influx of Egypt’s sectarianism into their security-concerned country.

In a letter to Jordan’s Premier Abdullah Ensour last week, Hamzeh Mansour, secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the Brotherhood’s political arm, called on the government to reconsider its “still-being-examined” decision to recruit Egyptian clergymen in the kingdom’s mosques, expressing concerns over a possible sectarian spillover from Egypt as a result of such a decision.

A loaded letter

Though focusing more on the impact of such a government decision on increasing unemployment rates among Jordanians, Mansour’s letter was more about the political rather than the economic implications. In a bid to sound less “politicized,” Mansour placed concerns over sectarian spillover from Egypt at the bottom of his letter, giving more priority to purely economic considerations. However, such arrangement of thoughts which gave predominance to economy over politics was nothing more than a stylistic device and a “last but not the least” sort of display of ideas.

Does the Jordanian government, faced with unprecedented security, economic and political challenges, have the “luxury” of debating such an issue?

Raed Omari

Mansour’s economic warning received no attention anyway, neither in the press nor in people’s commentaries as all the focus has been placed on the “coy” political message the Islamist leader managed to deliver to the government.

Mansour, who belongs to the so-called “hawks camp” within the Brotherhood, knows that if the Jordanian government is to borrow Egyptian clerics, they either have to be graduates of al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning, or other institutions with no allegiances whatsoever to the Brotherhood.

Taking the hint

Egypt’s embassy in Amman took the hint behind the letter and grasped Mansour’s “implied” anti-al-Azhar attitude and has issued a counterstatement, saying that the state of sectarian division now prevailing in Egypt is not caused by the “moderate” al-Azhar scholars but by an “established and institutionalized” school of terror and violence that exploited Islam to achieve political gains, hinting at the Muslim Brotherhood.

All in all, Mansour and the IAF would never oppose and would definitely applaud Jordan hiring Egyptian clergymen for its mosques if the decision were sanctioned by Egypt’s ousted Islamist leader Mohammad Mursi.
Aside from the politicized argument that followed the IAF’s warning to Jordan’s government, what is worth-noting in Mansour’s letter is the “instructive and constructive” attitude presented as opposed to the group’s “domineering and imperative” approach they showed during Mursi’s rule.

Utilizing “discourse analysis” techniques, one would notice a lot of “euphemism” employed in Mansour’s letter to the government. The Islamist leader has chosen his words carefully, artfully, with the aim of sounding as if he is advising more than warning the Jordanian government of the consequences of employing Egyptian clerics and imams in Jordanian mosques.

In Mansour’s “politely-worded” letter, there is much gratitude to the Jordanian government, although “coyly” implied, for not blacklisting the Islamist movement as a terrorist organization as Jordan’s first and foremost regional allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt have done. Such a move was highly expected from the Jordanian government, with regard to its strategic alliances with Riyadh and Cairo but has not be taken “yet” probably due to the kingdom’s unique nature that the Islamists are unable to recognize.

Also worth-noting is the Jordanian government’s silence and irresponsiveness to the IAF’s warning or advice. There is also much political meaning behind this silence.

Now, putting all this controversy and political argument aside, the least to be said about the IAF’s letter to the government, be it a warning, guidance or an advice, is that it was “ill-timed” and “irrelevant,” highlighting a marginal matter compared with the mega challenges Jordan is currently facing. Who in Jordan cares about such a trivial issue that still has not even been decided on? Does the Jordanian government, faced with unprecedented security, economic and political challenges, have the “luxury” of debating such an issue when the Syrian refugee crisis is turning into a nightmare that threatens Jordan’s stability and existence? Detachment from reality has proven to be the Brotherhood’s major dilemma and it is the reason for its tragedy.

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Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via raed_omari1977@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.